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Debate Intensifies at UN General Assembly Over U.S. Veto on Gaza Ceasefire Amendment

By: ATN News

In a high-stakes session at the General Assembly, delegates scrutinized the recent use of the United States' veto against an amendment to Security Council resolution 2720 (2023) concerning Gaza. The amendment sought an urgent suspension of hostilities to facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access and steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities.

The meeting, convened under the Assembly's standing mandate, followed the United States' veto on December 22nd, blocking a Russian Federation proposed amendment. Subsequently, the Council adopted resolution 2720 (2023), tabled by the United Arab Emirates, with 13 votes in favor, none against, and 2 abstentions (United States, Russian Federation).

UN General Assembly Vice President Cheikh Niang (Senegal) welcomed the adoption of resolution 2720 (2023) and emphasized the immediate priority of protecting civilians and saving lives. He urged all parties to fully implement the resolution and other relevant texts.

The United States justified its veto, stating that it collaborated in good faith to craft a strong, humanitarian-focused resolution. The representative expressed concern about Member States diverting from the situation on the ground and emphasized the need for Hamas to cease hiding behind civilians.

The Russian Federation criticized the watered-down resolution as a "license" for Israel to continue actions in Gaza and called for a clear demand for a full-fledged ceasefire. The State of Palestine's Permanent Observer decried the prevention of calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and urged an end to the "schizophrenia."

Israel's delegate presented a counterargument, highlighting acts of violence by Hamas and asserting that demanding a ceasefire would empower the group. The delegate accused the UN of being morally bankrupt and emphasized the need to hold Hamas accountable.

The Arab Group, represented by Bahrain, called on the international community for continuous humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and stressed the importance of a just solution to the Palestinian cause.

Other nations, including Iran, Austria, Türkiye, Egypt, and South Africa, expressed concerns over the veto's impact, emphasizing the need for Council reform, ceasefire, and accountability for actions in Gaza.

Kenya endorsed the Common African Position advocating for the abolition of the veto, while Malaysia lamented the veto's impact on stopping hostilities and delivering humanitarian aid.

Mexico sounded the alarm over the conflict's repercussions in the region, urging states to join the French-Mexican initiative to limit veto use in mass atrocities cases.

The Republic of Korea stressed the importance of implementing resolution 2720 (2023) and working towards a two-State solution to stop the cycle of violence.

In unrelated business, the Assembly proclaimed September 16 as the International Day of Science, Technology, and Innovation for the South, to be observed annually.


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