Likely call for Gaza ceasefire by UNGA cannot hide security council failure
The 15-member UN Security Council has met four times in the last three weeks, but has failed to agree on how to stop Israeli aerial strikes on Gaza
The UN General Assembly (UNGA), which is scheduled to start debating on the situation in Gaza from Thursday, is expected to adopt a resolution on Friday which will call for a ceasefire but will not condemn Hamas for the 7 October attacks on Israel. The resolution, moved by Jordan, is expected to be adopted by a simple majority, but will be largely symbolic and just a plea in effect.
Jordan, a regional ally of Israel since 1994, has bitterly criticised Israeli bombings of Gaza targeting Hamas. There is rising bitterness and anger in the Arab world against the failure of the United Nations to enforce a ceasefire and the double standards of western powers.
The UN Security Council (UNSC), which has 15 members, including the five permanent members with veto power, has already met four times since the conflict began three weeks ago, but failed to agree on a resolution calling for an immediate end to aerial bombings by Israel on Gaza.
A resolution moved by the US this week for a ‘pause’ in the war on humanitarian grounds was vetoed by China and Russia. A resolution moved by Russia for an unconditional ceasefire was vetoed by the US. A resolution adopted by the UNSC would have been binding.
Outside the council, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, demanded that UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres tender an apology and resign for having allegedly condoned the terror attack by Hamas on Israel. In a statement, Guterres denied the charge and voiced his anguish at the misrepresentation.
Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen also accused Guterres of justifying terrorism and cancelled a planned bilateral meeting with the UN chief on Tuesday.
Guterres had, in fact, said while nothing could justify the "appalling" attacks by Hamas, it was important to recognise that they did not happen in a vacuum and did not justify the collective punishment of Palestinians. Guterres added that the world could not lose sight of the only realistic foundation for peace and stability in West Asia, that is a two-state solution.
Pointing out that the Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation, his statement maintained, “Israelis must see their legitimate need for security materialised and Palestinians must see their legitimate need for an independent state realised, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements.”
There is growing frustration at the failure of the UNSC to intervene and end the aerial bombings in Gaza, which has already flattened houses, hospitals, schools, and apartment blocks, and killed over 7,000 people, nearly half of them children.
With the US and its Western allies supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and destroy Hamas, peace appears more elusive than ever even as efforts are on to prevent an escalation into a regional war.