The United Nations General Assembly has voted to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in war-torn Gaza, in a rebuke to the United States which has repeatedly blocked ceasefire calls in the UN’s Security Council.
A majority of 153 nations voted for the ceasefire resolution in the General Assembly’s emergency special session Tuesday, while 10 voted against and 23 abstained.
While a General Assembly vote is politically significant and seen as wielding moral weight, it is nonbinding, unlike a Security Council resolution. The US last week vetoed a ceasefire resolution in the smaller Security Council, which had been approved by a majority of the powerful 15-member body.
Tuesday’s brief resolution calls for a ceasefire, for all parties to comply with international law, and for humanitarian access to hostages as well as their “immediate and unconditional” release. It notably contains stronger language than an October vote in the assembly that had called for a “sustained humanitarian truce.”
The vote, hailed as “historic” by Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, comes as the war between Israel and Hamas enters its third month, and as medics and aid groups sound alarm bells on the humanitarian situation in besieged Gaza. More than 18,000 people have been killed in Gaza since fighting broke out, the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the enclave said Monday.
Israel has said it will not stop its military campaign until it eradicates Palestinian group Hamas, which controls Gaza, following its October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw around 240 kidnapped, according to Israeli authorities. Over 100 hostages are thought to remain in captivity in Gaza.
Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan described the resolution as a “disgraceful” attempt to bind Israel’s hands, warning that “continuing Israel’s operation in Gaza is the only way any hostages will be released.”
Israel has rejected previous calls for a ceasefire, though it agreed to a seven-day truce for the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza.
Israel voted against Tuesday’s resolution along with the US, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Austria, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia and Nauru.
Read more about the UN vote.