Sri Lanka voted for a Jordanian draft resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, co-sponsored by 40 others, mostly Arab states, calling for a truce to the ongoing armed conflict in the Palestinian Gaza and voted against a Canadian amendment naming and condemning Hamas for the terrorist attack in Israel on October 7 without naming Israel in the amendment.
The Jordanian resolution condemned “all acts of violence against Palestinian and Israeli civilians” and expressed grave concern for the “catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip”. It also called for Israel to rescind its orders for Palestinian civilians and aid workers to relocate from the Gaza Strip, among other issues
The vote on Friday night at the UN General Assembly came after the UN Security Council was unable to call for either a ‘pause’ or a ‘ceasefire’ to Israeli bombardments and an imminent ground assault in Gaza that has already led to 7,000 deaths, left tens of thousands wounded and displaced a million Palestinian civilians. The Hamas attack inside Israel resulted in about 1,400 deaths and 229 hostages being taken by the group.
Interestingly, of the 193 UN member-states, only 166 voted on the Canadian amendment that preceded the main resolution to name Hamas: 88 voted in ‘Favour’, 55 ‘Against’, and 23 ‘Abstained’, but as an amendment requires a two-thirds majority of members present and voting (‘Abstentions’ are however considered as non-voting), it was not carried.
Pakistan’s delegate slammed Canada for its bias and responded to its amendment saying, “If Canada was really equitable, it would agree either to name everybody — both sides who are guilty of having committed crimes — or it would not name either as we chose.”
The UN vote on the Jordanian resolution which is legally non-binding used the word ‘truce’ rather than ceasefire in an apparent bid to win wider support. It split the world into reflecting international sentiment on the ongoing war in Gaza.
Among the biggest shockers were India’s ‘Abstention’ on the resolution calling for a truce and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilians, and voting ‘For’ the Canadian amendment naming Hamas, while France, Switzerland and Norway were among the European member-states that voted in favour of the resolution.
After its amendment failed, Canada ‘Abstained’ on the main resolution. The United Kingdom, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Australia, and Japan, seen as pro-US states, ‘Abstained’ without voting along with the US and Israel. Arab nations, Iraq (now under US influence first voted ‘Abstain’ but later was reported to have said it was a tech error and that it should be counted as a “For” vote) and Tunisia also ‘Abstained’.
The US, the world’s most powerful democracy and other EU member-states, and the UK predictably voted against the resolution calling for an “immediate humanitarian truce”. Ultimately, the count was an overwhelming 120 (121 with Iraq) voting ‘For’ a truce, 14 ‘Against’ and 45 “Abstentions (44 without Iraq)’.
In New York, diplomatic circles commented after the vote, pointing out India’s pro-Israel stance on the vote as it took a position different from the majority of the Global South that took the side of Palestinian civilians. They also pointed to the split in the European vote
Sunday times. LK