The UN General Assembly on Wednesday adopted by a strong majority of 120 countries a resolution condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and rejected a US bid to blame Hamas for the violence.

The resolution deplores Israel’s use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” against Palestinian civilians and calls for protection measures for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March. No Israelis have died.

Presented by Algeria and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, the measure won a decisive 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.  US Ambassador Nikki Haley dismissed the resolution as “one-sided” and accused Arab countries of trying to score political points at home by seeking to condemn Israel at the United Nations.

“For some, attacking Israel is their favourite political sport. That’s why we are here today,” Haley told the assembly.

An amendment presented by the United States that condemned Hamas for “inciting violence” along the border with Gaza failed to garner the two-third majority needed for adoption.  Arab countries backing the measure turned to the General Assembly after the United States used its veto in the Security Council to block the resolution on June 1. Unlike the Security Council, resolutions adopted by the assembly are non-binding and there is no veto.

The resolution tasks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with the drafting of proposals for an “international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. These could range from setting up an observer mission to a full-blown peacekeeping force, but action on any option would require backing from the Security Council, where the United States has veto power. 

“We are asking for a simple thing,” Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour told the assembly. “We want our civilian population to be protected.”

Turkey’s Ambassador Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu defended the resolution, saying it was “about taking sides with international law” and showing the Palestinians that the world “does care about their suffering.”

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