UNHRC to consider call for halt to arm sales to Israel

If the text is adopted, it would mark the first time that the UN’s top rights body has taken a position on the bloodiest-ever Gaza war…reports Asian Lite News

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday is set to consider a draft resolution calling for a cessation of arms sales to Israel, nearly six months into the war in Gaza. If the text is adopted, it would mark the first time that the UN’s top rights body has taken a position on the bloodiest-ever Gaza war.

The draft resolution circulated on Wednesday condemns the “use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in Gaza” and demands Israel “uphold its legal responsibility to prevent genocide.”

The draft resolution was brought forward by Pakistan on behalf of 55 of the 56 UN member states in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — the exception being Albania.

The text is co-sponsored by Bolivia, Cuba and the Palestinian mission in Geneva. The draft demands Israel end its occupation of Palestinian territory and “immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip and all other forms of collective punishment”.

It “calls upon all states to cease the sale, transfer and diversion of arms, munitions and other military equipment to Israel … in order to prevent further violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights.”

Meanwhile, the US has warned Iran not to retaliate against it for an attack on Iran’s mission compound in Syria, telling the UN Security Council it had no prior warning of the strike that Tehran has blamed on Washington’s ally Israel.

US representative to the UN Robert Wood reiterated that Washington has communicated to Iran that it “had no involvement” in the strike on the consulate, nor did it have any knowledge of it ahead of time.

Wood said that since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, the US has repeatedly warned Iran not to take advantage of the situation by escalating its “longstanding proxy war against Israel and other actors,” but Iran has ignored that warning.

He warned that US authorities “will not hesitate to defend our personnel, and repeat our prior warnings to Iran and its proxies not to take advantage of this situation to resume their attacks on US personnel.”

Tehran’s deputy representative to the UN, Zahra Ershadi, said: “Iran has exercised considerable restraint but there are limits to our forbearance.”

Celebrity chef Jose Andres said that an Israeli attack that killed seven of his food aid workers in Gaza had targeted them “systematically, car by car.” Andres said the World Central Kitchen charity group he founded had clear communication with the Israeli military, which he said knew his aid workers’ movements.

Separately, Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said her country would consider recognizing Palestine as a sovereign state “when the moment comes.”

Palestinians eye UN membership vote  

The Palestinians want the Security Council to vote later this month on their revived request for full membership in the United Nations, despite the United States reiterating Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinians must first negotiate a peace agreement.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, said 140 countries recognise the state of Palestine, and we believe it is high time now for our state to become a full member at the United Nations.

The Palestinians are making a fresh bid for UN membership as the war between Israel and Hamas that began Oct 7 nears its sixth month, putting the unresolved decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the spotlight after years on the back burner.

During the Cold War between the former Soviet Union and the United States, Mansour said, countries were blocked from joining the UN, but they all eventually became members, including North Korea. The US doesn’t recognise North Korea but didn’t block its admission, he said, and asked why conditions should be placed on Palestinian membership.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority’s application to become the 194th member of the United Nations to then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept 23, 2011, before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly.

That bid failed because the Palestinians failed to get the required support of nine of the Security Council’s 15 members. Even if they did, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, had promised at that time to veto any council resolution endorsing Palestinian membership, saying this should follow a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Palestinians then went to the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, and by more than a two-thirds majority succeeded in having their status raised from a UN observer to a non-member observer state in November 2012.

Mansour asked the Security Council on Tuesday to consider during April the Palestinians’ renewed application for membership, which was supported by the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations, the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the 120-member Nonaligned Movement.

He told several journalists Wednesday that he expects the council’s Standing Committee on New Members, which includes all 15 council nations, to meet behind closed doors to consider the application before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 9.

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