UNGA to vote on resolution for cease-fire in Gaza after US' veto
US prefers helping Israel realize its goal rather than protecting lives
Published: Dec 12, 2023 10:43 PM
People check the damage caused by an Israeli strike at the al-Mughazi refugee camp in Deir Balah of the central Gaza Strip on Nov. 5, 2023. At least 37 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 others injured on Sunday in a massive Israeli attack on the al-Mughazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said. (Photo: Xinhua)

People check the damage caused by an Israeli strike at the al-Mughazi refugee camp in Deir Balah of the central Gaza Strip on Nov. 5, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

The UN General Assembly is set to vote on a resolution for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire on Tuesday afternoon local time, after the US vetoed a similar resolution on Friday. Experts said that even if the General Assembly passes a nonbinding resolution, the conflict would not stop because Washington, the only major power that is able to effectively restrain Israeli forces from worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, prefers to clear the way for Israel to realize its ultimate goal rather than protecting lives.

After the US vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council on Friday, Arab and Islamic nations called for an emergency session of the 193-member General Assembly on Tuesday. Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding. But as UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Monday, the assembly's messages "are also very important" and reflect world opinion, the Associated Press reported.

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the UN, told AP on Sunday that the defeated resolution in the Security Council was cosponsored by 103 countries, and he is hoping for more cosponsors and a high vote for the General Assembly resolution on Tuesday.

In the vote on Friday at the Security Council, among the 15 members, 13 of them voted in favor of a brief draft resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, while Britain abstained and the US vetoed it. 

This proves that Washington does not care about diplomatic isolation or criticism from within the US or around the globe, and unfortunately, the reality is that apart from criticism and sending humanitarian aid, the UN's role has reached its limit, said Chinese experts.

Ma Xiaolin, dean of the Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean Rim at Zhejiang International Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "even if the US abstains and lets the resolution pass, if Israel refuses to execute it, and Washington refuses to sanction Israel and maintains its military and economic support, a UN cease-fire resolution would still be useless."

However, China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible major power, is still making efforts for peace and humanitarian issues in Gaza. Representatives of a dozen UN Security Council members, except the US and France, on Monday made a trip to the Rafah crossing, the only border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, joined ambassadors from other Security Council members on the visit organized by the United Arab Emirates, aiming to assess the humanitarian situation and challenges faced by the Palestinian people, media reported.

Zhang said that China has been "making unremitting efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at an early date and has provided urgent humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian side."

China will continue to urge the Security Council to play a responsible role in making the realization of a cease-fire a matter of the utmost urgency on the one hand while promoting the expansion of humanitarian access on the other, so as to alleviate the suffering endured by the Palestinian people, he said.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza announced on Monday that the Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip has exceeded 18,000 as a result of the conflict since October 7, the Xinhua News Agency reported. As of Monday, a total of 18,205 Palestinians have been killed and 49,645 others wounded in the conflict, according to the ministry's spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra.

If Israel's operation continues, with military advantages and firm US support, it might be possible to see Israel claiming "victory" and ending its operation in the coming months, but this would not put an end to the crisis, experts said.

Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that although it seems like Israel is currently controlling more and more areas of Gaza, if it has to occupy the whole Gaza Strip, then the real challenges will occur.

"In order to realize its goal to eliminate Hamas in Gaza, or totally disable the governance of Hamas in the region, Israel must take over the governance and rebuild the region based on Israel's preferences, and in order to realize this plan, it has to cooperate with local Palestinians and other Palestinians in the West Bank, and [do that] after killing 18,000, or more, of them during this war. Everyone can see how hard it would be," Liu said.