U.N. body refuses to urge Hamas to release Israeli captives in Gaza

The resolution — which passed 45-2 — made no reference to Hamas or Palestinian violence against Israel.

By
July 26, 2018 11:01
The United Nations building

The United Nations building. (photo credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)

 
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A United Nations body has rejected an Israeli text that called on Hamas to release Israeli captives and the bodies of IDF soldiers held in Gaza.

Israel introduced the oneline text into a wide-ranging resolution condemning Israel’s actions against the Palestinians that was approved on Tuesday in New York by the 54-member UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The resolution – which passed 45-2 – made no reference to Hamas or Palestinian violence against Israel.

The one-line amendment Israel introduced called “for the immediate release of the civilians and soldiers being held in Gaza by Hamas.”

Only five countries voted in favor of the Israeli amendment: the United States, Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. Another 18 countries opposed the call to free Israeli captives.

Some 23 countries abstained, including all EU member states on the council; Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Spain and Britain.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon attacked the EU for its neutrality on Twitter.
Haley says of Israel, US has 'no moral duty to be neutral' in relation to the Israeli-Gaza conflict, July 23, 2018 (Reuters)

“HARD TO BELIEVE AT THE UN! At @UNECOSOC yesterday the EU members did not support an Israel initiative to include in the usual anti Israel texts a sentence calling for the immediate release of the civilians and soldiers held in Gaza by Hamas! Disappointing,” Nahshon wrote.


Prior to the vote, US Ambassador to ECOSOC Kelley Currie said that her country once again “calls on Hamas to return the [bodies of] Israeli Defense Forces soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, as well as Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, to their families immediately.

Israeli captives in Hamas (Courtesy)

“All member-states should be clear on where they stand regarding Hamas by voting in support of the amendment,” Currie said.

Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon added that both the Israelis held are “mentally disabled and in need of immediate medical attention. They [Hamas] also refuse to permit visits by the Red Cross or any other third party, or to provide information about their fate or condition.”

“We see that some countries here cannot name Hamas when it comes to condemning who is responsible for holding the bodies of Israelis,” Danon said.

The Palestinian representatives told Danon, “You would have a much stronger argument if Israel was not withholding dozens of Palestinian bodies... This practice has been going on for years.”

“Once you pursue this policy it makes it harder to be credible denouncing it,” the Palestinian representative said.

He spoke in reference to Israel’s practice, in some cases, of withholding the bodies of Palestinian terrorists responsible for killing Israelis.


At the request of the EU, the ECOSOC states approved a compromise text that spoke generally of the release of all bodies withheld as part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Deploring the practice of withholding the bodies of those killed, and calling for the release of the bodies that have not yet been returned to their relatives, in line with international humanitarian law and human rights law, in order to ensure dignified closure in accordance with their religious beliefs and traditions.”

After the vote, Uruguay said that it supported both amendments from Israel and the EU that spoke of the return of prisoners or bodies.

“It is unpleasant to speculate or otherwise argue about bodies. It is almost immoral if we do not have clarity on these concepts.

“We have no difficulty to name the groups which obstinately refuse to return” those bodies or those people who may have “inadvertently” crossed a border in a conflict area, Uruguay said.

The larger pro-Palestinian resolution against Israel approved by ECOSOC, over the objections of only the United States and Canada, included 22 statements including a call to cease settlement and end all restrictions at the Gaza crossings. All ECOSOC EU member states supported the larger resolution.

An Israeli representative told the council that the larger resolution failed to mention that “Hamas controls Gaza through violence, repression, denial of basic human rights and the misuse of resources.” Nor, does the text deal with Palestinian corruption, she said.

Currie said: “The resolution and the [accompanying] report are unbalanced, and unfairly single out Israel in a forum that is not intended to be politicized.”

“This document only serves to inflame both sides of the conflict and complicate our shared goal of advancing Israeli and Palestinian peace,” Currie said. “Billions of dollars have been invested in Gaza over the past 70 years, yet as the report notes, still over half of the population lives below the poverty line.”

The primary culprit for the situation in Gaza is Hamas, not Israel, Currie said.

“Hamas must acknowledge that the existence of Israel is a permanent reality, and that the Palestinian Authority is the legitimate governing body in the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas should stop diverting funds intended for infrastructure to purchasing weapons or other nefarious uses and instead work towards peace and the prosperity of its own citizens rather than nursing their sense of grievance and victim-hood,” she said.

The Palestinian representative said, “This is not an anti-Israel resolution. This is an anti-colonialism, pro-right to self determination resolution.

“It is because Israel has chosen to be a colonial power that it is criticized for its violations. If it makes a different choice, and the international community should push it and force it that direction than the attitude and the resolutions would be extremely different,” the Palestinian representative said.

“Can the UN take any stance except being opposed to colonialism and in favor of the right of self-determination or should it make an exception because it is the Palestinians and the Palestinian people and it is Israel,” the representatives said.

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