UN General Assembly condemns Israel for Gaza violence

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120 countries voted in favour of the non-binding yet politically symbolic resolution

General Assembly text condemned the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas, but did not mention Hamas (AFP)
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Thursday 14 June 2018 8:13 UTC
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The UN General Assembly condemned Israel on Wednesday for excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians and asked UN chief Antonio Guterres to recommend an "international protection mechanism" for the occupied Palestinian territories.

The assembly adopted a resolution with 120 votes in favour, eight against and 45 abstentions. Algeria, Turkey and the Palestinians put the resolution forward in the General Assembly after the United States vetoed a similar resolution in the 15-member UN Security Council earlier this month.

Israeli forces have killed more than 120 Palestinians since 30 March, according to a UN tally, and injured thousands. The largest number of deaths occurred on 14 May, the day the US moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The resolution text condemned the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas, but did not mention Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but carry political weight.

"The nature of this resolution clearly demonstrates that politics is driving the day. It is totally one-sided. It makes not one mention of the Hamas terrorists who routinely initiate the violence in Gaza," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the assembly before the vote.

The United States failed in a bid to amend the resolution with a paragraph that would have condemned violence by Hamas.

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"By supporting this resolution you are colluding with a terrorist organisation, by supporting this resolution you are empowering Hamas," Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the General Assembly before the vote.

Amid international condemnation of its use of lethal force, Israel claimed many of the dead were militants and that the Israeli army was repelling attacks on the fence separating Israel from Gaza. 

Palestinians and their supporters said most protesters were unarmed civilians and Israel used excessive force against them.

"We need protection of our civilian population," Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the General Assembly before the vote, adding that the resolution was "intended to contribute to a de-escalation of the volatile situation".

"We cannot remain silent in the face of the most violent crimes and human rights violations being systematically perpetrated against our people," Mansour said.

The resolution asked Guterres to report back within 60 days on proposals "on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation, including ... recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism".

In December, 128 countries defied US President Donald Trump and voted in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

On 1 June, the US vetoed a Kuwait-drafted UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israel's use of force against Palestinian civilians, criticising it as a "grossly one-sided" view that failed to blame Hamas for the recent violence.

Out of the council's 15 members, 10 voted in favour, including France, and only the US voted against. There were four abstentions including Britain.