UN asks Israel to vacate Gaza:
US opposes, EU backs resolution
By Masood Haider
11/18/06 "Dawn" -- -- UNITED NATIONS, Nov 18: The UN General
Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly to condemn Israel
for "indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force" in
its military offensive in Gaza which, according to the
Palestinian ambassador, threatens to "destroy the entire
The resolution was passed by a vote of 156 to 7, with six
abstentions. The US, Israel and Australia voted against the
document while all the European Union members supported it.
The resolution "deeply deplores" the Israeli offensive,
launched after the June capture of an Israel soldier, and
calls on Israel to immediately halt its operation and pull
its troops out of the Gaza Strip.
The vote came less than a week after the United States
vetoed a UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israel
for launching a Nov 8 missile strike that killed 18
civilians in the town of Beit Hanoun.
Opening the debate on Friday, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad
Mansour called for "an end to this rampant Israeli campaign,
which intends to destroy an entire people."
The Arab League had asked for the session after the US
vetoed a similar, but watered-down UN Security Council draft
resolution against Israel's actions last weekend, its second
veto on the issue this year.
In a bitter attack on the member states for holding such a
debate, Israel's UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman accused
Palestinians of turning the Gaza Strip into a launching pad
for terrorist attacks against Israel, allowing the firing of
more than 1,000 rockets in the last year.
US Ambassador John Bolton said it was ironic the assembly
held a special session on the Palestinian question a day
after one of its committees passed a resolution stressing
the need to avoid politically-motivated and biased human
rights resolutions.Reuters adds: Palestinian ambassador
Mansour told the assembly that last Saturday's veto by
Washington, Israel's closest ally, sent a message to the
Jewish state “that it can continue to commit crimes and acts
of outright aggression with impunity,”
US Ambassador Bolton said the assembly resolution, like the
one before the Security Council, was a “one-sided,
unbalanced” text that raised questions about the world
body's ability to confront global problems.
Arab diplomats said they took particular umbrage at Israeli
UN Ambassador Gillerman for cautioning delegates a “yes”
vote would make them “accomplices to terror.”“The blood of
poor innocents will be on your hands,” Gillerman said, even
as he acknowledged the attack had been “a tragic accident
... which Israel deeply regrets.”
While the vote was largely symbolic, simply expressing the
will of world governments, Arab states took the matter to
the 192-nation assembly because Washington has no veto
FACT-FINDING MISSION: Gillerman said Palestinian rocket fire
and the Palestinians' elected Hamas government were to blame
for the continuing Israeli military action in Gaza.
He accused Qatar, the sole Arab member of the Security
Council, of pressing for a quick vote last Saturday because
it had learned of a major guerrilla attack in the works and
feared it might embarrass Arab states if it occurred before
Qatari Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser denied
Gillerman's accusation, telling Reuters: “That is not
correct. We don't know anything about that.”
The resolution called for the immediate cessation of all
acts of violence and terror by both the Palestinian and
Israeli sides and asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan to set
up a fact-finding mission to look into the Beit Hanoun
The call for a UN inquiry into the attack delayed assembly
action for hours as the UN body's budget committee debated
whether the effort would duplicate a similar mission ordered
by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In the end, the
budget committee approved the new panel's estimated $130,000
budget by a vote of 143-5 with two abstentions.
© DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2006