The table showing how countries voted on Friday. Downloaded from 'X', formerly Twitter.
The table showing how countries voted on Friday. Downloaded from 'X', formerly Twitter.

Portugal sticks by reasons for voting for ceasefire in Middle East

“Yes vote is one that best contributes to peace”

With so much division across the world now over events unfolding in Gaza, Portugal has spoken about why this country stood among the crushing majority supporting a UN resolution for a ceasefire.

That resolution has been effectively ignored and deeply-criticised by Israel. 

The country’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan said the vote signalled a day of infamy. 

“We have all witnessed that the UN no longer holds even one ounce of legitimacy or relevance”, he said after the vote on Friday.

Yesterday, as Israeli troops began rolling into Gaza under cover of intensified aerial bombardment, President of Turkey – another of the 120 countries that supported the UN resolution – told a massive pro-Palestinian rally that Hamas “is not a terrorist organisation (…) Israel is an occupier”. The “main culprit behind the massacre unfolding in Gaza is the West”, Erdogan told a sea of supporters – indicating how much division must exist even between those 120 countries that voted for a ceasefire.

Writing over social media, Portugal’s head of diplomacy João Gomes Cravinho said Portugal’s decision “was not easy” and the resolution itself “was not perfect”, which is why the government issued an explanation of vote afterwards. But it was, in the government’s view, the vote that “best contributes to peace at this time”, writes the Minister, adding:“It is essential to find the path to a two-state solution”.

Here, Israel’s ambassador to Portugal Dor Shapira has expressed his regret over Portugal’s stance, saying “I am sorry, but when you vote like Iran, Syria, Russia and North Korea and not like the US, the UK, Japan and Germany, something doesn’t add up with your position. Israel has the right to defend itself against a terrorist organization (2 points that are not mentioned in the resolution)”.

In a separate post, Mr Shapira lambasts the United Nations generally, reiterating that “Israel rejects the call for a ceasefire and will continue to act to ensure its security and the safety of its citizens. 

“Just as the world united to defeat ISIS and the Nazis, there is a moral obligation for the international community to support Israel in its fight against Hamas”.

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed the non-binding resolution on Friday, with 120 votes in favor (see table above), calling for an “immediate, lasting and sustained humanitarian truce” in Gaza and the rescinding of Israel’s order to move the population to the south of the enclave.

The draft resolution was presented by Jordan, and co-sponsored by more than 40 UN member states. 

Countries such as Israel, the United States, Austria and Hungary voted against the text, while Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Iraq, Albania and Cape Verde abstained.

As State news agency Lusa observes, “despite not being binding, this resolution carries political weight and shows the international community’s position on the way Israel is conducting its war against the Islamist group Hamas.

“An amendment proposed by Canada and supported by dozens of countries, including Portugal, the United States and the United Kingdom, which unequivocally condemned the Hamas terrorist attacks of October 7 and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, was also put to the vote, but was not approved, as it did not receive the favorable votes of two-thirds of the member states (it received 88 votes in favor, 55 against and 23 abstentions)”.

Specifically, the resolution calls for an “immediate, lasting and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities”; demands that all parties immediately and fully comply with their obligations under international law, including the protection of civilians and civilian property, and humanitarian personnel; and also demands the immediate, continuous and unhindered supply of essential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip, including water, food, medical supplies, fuel and electricity.

Among other points, it also calls for the rescinding of Israel’s order for Gaza residents to move south; and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians who are illegally held captive.

The resolution also reaffirms that a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by “peaceful means, on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions and in accordance with international law, and on the basis of the two-state solution”.

The vote took place at an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly, called after the UN Security Council was deadlocked and so far has failed to pass any of the four resolutions that were put to the vote on the issue.

Under UN rules, the General Assembly can call an “emergency special session” within 24 hours if the Security Council “fails to exercise its primary responsibility” for maintaining international peace and security. ND