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UNGA: Pakistan defends Jordanian Peace Draft

MANHATTAN: The balanced Jordanian-led resolution calling for a “humanitarian truce” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict survived a last-minute Western attempt to tilt the draft in Israel’s favour as it collapsed due to some hard work by its sponsors and a compelling speech by Pakistan’s top diplomat Munir Akram.

Canada, backed by the United States, moved an amendment ahead of the vote in the UN General Assembly that would have the draft unequivocally reject and condemn “the terrorist attacks by Hamas” in Israel which started on October 7 and the taking of hostages.

In return, Canadian Ambassador Rovert Rae, on behalf of the amendment’s sponsors, said if that language was worked into the Jordanian text, they would all vote for it. The offer to back the resolution was meant to gather support for the Israeli push to seek international condemnation of Hamas,

Significantly India, now a strategic ally of Israel, voted for the amendment which failed to muster the required two-thirds majority, having received 88 votes in favour to 55 against, with 23 abstentions.

During the lunch break the resolution’s sponsors lobbied with delegates to ensure that it retained sufficient support for passage in the 193-member Assembly.

Ambassador Akram, the permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, spearheaded the effort to defeat the amendment as the Assembly prepared to take action on it.

In a well-reasoned speech, he appealed to all member states not to support the Canadian amendment, which he called one-sided, unequal and unfair.

While the Canadian envoy insists on naming Hamas, he does not feel the need to name Israel for killing 7000 Palestinians and injuring 17,000, the Pakistani envoy told delegates in the crowded General Assembly hall

“Only Hamas. Is this balance?”, he asked.

“If you are fair, if you are equitable, if you are just, you will not blame one side and not the other.

“If you were to go back to the issue of who started this (conflict), we all know who started this — I

“t is 50 years of Israeli occupation and the murder and killing of Palestinians with impunity that started this.

“When you push a people into the corner, he will respond,” Ambassador Akram added,

Noting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ comment that the current conflict “did not happen in a vacuum,” he denounced the “disrespectful” response to it from the Israeli diplomats.

“Look at the reaction that came from the Israeli representative, insulting the Secretary-General and calling for his resignation,” the Pakistani envoy said, adding, “They can’t face the truth.

“They can’t face justice.

“They can’t face the fact that the crime has originated with the Israelis.

“The Israeli occupation is the original sin in this case.

“It is not what happened on the seventh of October.

“That is a proximate cause. But the real cause is the occupation of Palestine.”

He urged the backers of the Canadian amendment “not to show that you are biased against the Palestinian people who have suffered 50 years of occupation;

“that you are even-handed; that you will either name both or you will name neither in this draft resolution.”

“Our purpose,” the Pakistani envoy said, “is to stop the fighting.”

“And if you only focus on your kith and kin in Israel and forget the Palestinians, because they are different people, are they people of a Lesser God,” he asked.

As regards Canada’s demand for the release of Israeli hostages, Ambassador Akram said:

“The text does speak in balanced terms for the release of all who are held, not only the Israeli hostages but also the Palestinians, they have the same rights.

“They are human beings too.”

A loud and sustained applause rang out as Ambassador Akram finished his intervention.

After the amendment was defeated, the Assembly went on to adopt the resolution by a wide margin of 120 votes in favour to 14 against, with 45 amendments.

India was among those countries which abstained. France broke ranks with its Western allies by voting for the resolution.

French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere, speaking after the resolution passed, said he had voted in favour, as “nothing justifies the killing of civilians”.

“We have to work collectively to set up a humanitarian truce because the situation in Gaza is catastrophic,” he said, noting that France has already sent an aid vessel.

Under its terms, the resolution demands “the immediate, continuous, sufficient and unhindered provision” of essential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip,

“including but not limited to water, food, medical supplies, fuel and electricity. It urges immediate, full, sustained, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.

It encourages the establishment of humanitarian corridors and other initiatives to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza and welcomes efforts in this regard.

The resolution demands that all parties immediately and fully comply with their obligations under international law, particularly in regard to the protection of civilians and civilian objects, and enable and facilitate humanitarian access for essential supplies and services to reach all civilians in need in Gaza.

It also calls for the rescinding of the order by Israel for Palestinian civilians and UN staff, as well as humanitarian and medical workers,

… to evacuate all areas in the Gaza Strip north of the Wadi Gaza and relocate to southern Gaza.

The resolution firmly rejects any attempts at the forced transfer of the Palestinian civilian population.

It calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians who are being illegally held captive, demanding their safety, well-being and humane treatment in compliance with international law.

It also calls for respect and protection, consistent with international humanitarian law, of all civilian and humanitarian facilities, including hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as their means of transport and equipment, schools, places of worship, and UN facilities, as well as all humanitarian and medical personnel and journalists, media professionals and associated personnel, in armed conflict in the region.

It stresses the particularly grave impact that armed conflict has on women and children, as well as on other civilians who may have specific vulnerabilities, including persons with disabilities and older persons.

The resolution stresses the need to urgently establish a mechanism to ensure the protection of the Palestinian civilian population, in accordance with international law and the relevant UN resolutions, and further stresses the importance of a humanitarian notification mechanism to ensure the protection of UN facilities and all humanitarian installations and to ensure the unimpeded movement of aid convoys.

The resolution emphasizes the importance of preventing further destabilization and escalation of violence in the region, and in this regard calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and on all those with influence on them to work toward this objective.

It reaffirms that a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on the relevant UN resolutions in accordance with international law, and on the basis of the two-state solution.