UN blames Israel for Gaza violence
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly approved a Palestinian-backed resolution Wednesday blaming Israel for violence in Gaza and deploring its “excessive use of force,” after narrowly rejecting a U.S. demand to add a condemnation of attacks on Israel by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
The votes reflected wide concern in the 193-member world body that the resolution sponsored by Arab and Islamic nations was one-sided and failed to even mention Hamas, which has fired over 100 rockets at Israel.
Since near-weekly mass protests began March 30 along the Israel-Gaze border, more than 120 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,800 wounded by Israeli army fire. The overwhelming majority of the dead and wounded have been unarmed, according to Gaza health officials.
Israel’s use of potentially lethal force against the protesters has drawn international criticism. Israel accuses Hamas of trying to carry out attacks and damage the border fence under the guise of the protests.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon told the assembly that Hamas is conducting “a violent assault on Israel” and aims to seize its main cities of Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said.
For the Palestinians, the resolution’s key provision is a request to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including on “an international protection mechanism.”
In the General Assembly, the confrontation over Gaza, reflecting decades-old divisions between Israel and the Palestinians, played out with a few new twists.
Algerian Ambassador Sabri Boukadoum, representing Arab nations, first sought to block a vote on the U.S. amendment, saying it wasn’t relevant to the resolution. He said it also undermined reconciliation efforts between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah as well as the “remote prospects” of reviving peace negotiations with Israel.
His motion to take “no action” on the amendment was defeated by a vote of 59-78 with 26 abstentions, allowing the U.S. amendment to be put to a vote.
The U.S. amendment was approved by a 62-58 vote, with 42 abstentions. But General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak declared that under an assembly rule, a twothirds majority was needed so the amendment failed.