UN General Assembly President opens 'emergency' session on Gaza

January 15, 2009 23:42

General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann opened an emergency meeting of the 192-nation world body on "illegal Israeli actions" in Gaza on Thursday by angrily blocking Israel's attempt to halt on procedural grounds what it called a "hateful" session. D'Escoto argued that the assembly, as "the most representative and most democratic component of the United Nations," had a duty to step in and make its voice heard because the Security Council's urgent call for a cease-fire a week earlier had been "totally ignored" by Israel and Hamas. More than 60 nations signed up to speak. Israeli diplomat Ilan Fluss argued that the session was "superfluous" because the Security Council is still "seized" of the Gaza conflict, citing Article 12 of the UN Charter. It says the General Assembly "shall not make any recommendation" about a dispute or situation before the Security Council unless it is asked to; in this case, it hasn't been. D'Escoto, openly leftist and pro-Palestinian, is a US-born Roman Catholic priest who has been repeatedly critical of the United States and of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

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