UNGA vote 'barometer of global concern'; US increasingly 'isolated' in supporting Israel
Published: Dec 13, 2023 08:45 PM
This photo taken on Dec. 10, 2023 shows damaged buildings after an Israeli airstrike in Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza Strip.(Photo: Xinhua)

This photo taken on Dec. 10, 2023 shows damaged buildings after an Israeli airstrike in Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. Photo: Xinhua

The latest resolution that calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and passed by large majority is an important barometer of global concern over the dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and it indicates that the US is increasingly isolated in its support for Israel, analysts said, calling for more humanitarian aid and political and diplomatic mediation to avoid the conflict from spilling over.

On Tuesday, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution, which calls for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire by a vote of 153 in favor, 10 against and 23 abstentions. None of the major powers joined Israel and the US in their opposition to the resolution. 

The resolution, which was submitted by Egypt on behalf of Arab countries, expressed serious concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and calling on all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, to effectively protect civilians, and to immediately release all hostages.

China welcomed the resolution's high-vote passage at the General Assembly and said it reflects the will of the international community and must be fully and effectively implemented, said China's Permanent Representative to the UN Zhang Jun, according to a release from the website of China's Permanent Mission to the UN.

The humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip has reached a point where it is beyond description, and it must not be allowed to worsen. A cease-fire is the overriding priority, and the international community must make an immediate cease-fire its common goal and the most urgent matter, Zhang said. 

Zhang added that China will continue to play a responsible role in making unremitting efforts to restore peace, save lives, and alleviate the humanitarian situation.

Tuesday's vote came as the death toll in Gaza has been climbing. Israel's retaliation against Hamas attacks has killed more than 18,000 Palestinians and wounded 50,000, and more than 80 percent of Gaza's 2.3 million residents have been displaced, according to media reports. 

In October, the UN General Assembly also passed a resolution that called for "an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities" with 121 votes in favor and 14 against, also including the US. 

The overwhelming vote supporting the resolution shows that the US and Israel are facing scant support and moral pressure as Israel continues to push its military actions in Gaza which are causing a deteriorating humanitarian crisis, Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times. 

Unlike UN General Assembly votes, resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council have the power to be binding. Due to the US, the UN is finding it hard to act on the Palestine issue, Liu said.

On December 8, the UN Security Council failed again to pass a resolution on the Palestine issue which also called for a humanitarian cease-fire but the US vetoed the proposal. 

As it faces increasing criticism and pressure, the US is more two-faced and continues to back Israel at the UN while loudly urging Israel to minimize casualties of civilians,  Liu said.

On Tuesday, Biden said that Israel is losing support over its "indiscriminate" bombing of Gaza and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should change, in stark contrast to his earlier rhetoric of support for Netanyahu.

Despite warnings from the US, Israel is continuing its military assaults in Gaza. On Tuesday, Israel's military reportedly begun pumping seawater into the Gaza tunnels said to be occupied by Hamas, according to media reports. 

According to analysts, there is now little chance that Israel will stop its operations in Gaza since the Netanyahu administration wants to completely reshape order in Gaza and destroy Hamas.

Israel's plan to pump seawater into underground tunnel system in Gaza aims to force Hamas to get out of the subterranean network of passages. But if it does, the humanitarian and ecological damage would be disastrous, Liu said. 

The international community and the US should exert more pressure on Israel and people should be held accountable for any actions that violate international laws, Liu said, noting that more humanitarian aid should be offered to relieve the shortage of daily necessities in Gaza. 

Moreover, diplomatic mediation is also needed to avoid a spill-over of the conflict, said Liu.