Only 12 countries joined Washington and Israel as Jordan’s motion was passed at the general assembly
The US has ended up looking quite badly isolated after only 12 countries joined Washington and Israel at the UN general assembly in opposing a motion calling for a sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.
One hour after Israel had extended its offensive in Gaza, Jordan’s motion was passed in New York by 120 votes to 14, with 45 countries abstaining. The outcome was remarkable for showing the limited direct support for the world’s greatest superpower, with even France, Spain and the UK refusing to join the US in voting against the motion.
The splits inside the EU, visible over recent weeks, were also laid bare, with the 27-members of the bloc voting three different ways, but the majority abstaining. Six of the votes the US garnered were from Pacific islands: Fiji, Tonga, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
In the days leading to the vote, Jordan had adapted its initial resolution in an effort to secure maximum support by dropping its call for a ceasefire in favour of a sustained humanitarian truce, and it had added that the release of “captives” must be unconditional.
But Canada, with US backing, said these adjustments did not go far enough, since Jordan’s motion did not name Hamas but instead simply condemned “all attacks of violence against Palestinian and Israeli citizens, including all acts of terror and indiscriminate attacks”. It also did not describe the hostages held by Hamas as such, but instead said they were being illegally held as captives.
The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas Greenfield, said that by refusing to name Hamas, the motion empowered the militant organisation that runs Gaza.
When Canada’s amendment naming Hamas and describing those held captive as hostages was put to a vote, Canada and the US won the vote by 88 to 55, with 23 abstaining. All 27 EU states and the UK backed the amendment. But a vote at the general assembly, as opposed to the smaller UN security council, requires a two-thirds majority, meaning the Canadian amendment fell.
That left UN envoys with a choice: back the Jordanian call for a humanitarian truce, bereft of a reference to Hamas, or abstain or vote against it. Eight EU countries led by France backed the resolution. Among the big powers abstaining were Australia, India and the UK. The US alliance that voted against the resolution on one count represents only 7% of seats at the general assembly, bearing some resemblance to the diplomatic isolation Russia has experienced over Ukraine in the past two years.