UPDATING LIVE:UN General Assembly convenes emergency meeting on Gaza

Session adjourns

1:03 PM

The President of the General Assembly Dennis Francis brought Thursday’s emergency session to a close saying it would reconvene at 10 am on Friday.

Many key countries with a stake in the region have yet to take the iconic podium in the Assembly Hall, and tomorrow’s speakers’ list will likely see the session last through the entire day. 

For an explainer on how the Security Council and General Assembly work in times of acute international crisis and what happens when no agreement on action can be reached, check out our piece here.  

11:51 AM

Iran slams ‘genocide’

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that it has been three weeks that the international community has been a witness to the “war crime and genocide of the occupying Israeli regime in Gaza and the West Bank of Palestine.”

He said that the US and several European countries sided with Israel and they refer to the Palestinian liberation movement as “terrorists”.

“Unfortunately this is the state of our world today. This is the situation of the Security Council, which was supposed to try to establish world peace and security,” he said.

Mr. Amir-Abdollahian called on the US to work for peace and security and not war against people, women and children, stating “instead of sending rockets, tanks and bombs, to be used against Gaza, the United States should stop supporting genocide in Gaza and Palestine.”

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian of Iran addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian of Iran addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Hamas ready to release civilian hostages

“I say frankly to the American statesmen who are now managing the genocide in Palestine, that we do not welcome the expansion of war in the region, but I warn if the genocide in Gaza continues, they will not be spared from this fire,” he stressed.

“It is our home and West Asia is our region, we do not compromise with any party and any side, and we have no reservation when it comes to our homes’ security.”

He also noted that according to Iranian negotiations, Hamas is ready to release civilian prisoners, on the other hand the international community should support the release of 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

11:28 AM

We must stand for peace: Jordan

On behalf of the Arab Group, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said “there is no room for grey areas”.

“We must stand for peace, our human values and the UN Charter,” he said. “History will judge us. Say no to war. Say no to the killing. Call out war crimes.”

As the killing continues, he said the Israeli Government have cabinet members that call for “wiping out Palestinians from the face of this Earth”.

“Israel is making Gaza a hell on Earth,” he said. “The trauma will haunt generations to come.”

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi of Jordan addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi of Jordan addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Israel must uphold values, he said. “The right to self-defence is not a right to impunity; Israel cannot remain above the law,” he said. “Let the guns go silent and let the will to live and let live prevail. Let’s restore faith in the peace process as the only path to ending this conflict once and for all.”

Mr. Safadi said Jordan, on behalf of the Arab Group, will table a draft resolution after the UN Security Council failed to do so again on Wednesday.

“Vote for it; make a stand,” he said.

“Let’s make a collective cry, a cry out against more bloodletting,” he said. “Let’s unite for peace.”

“Make a stand for peace, make a stand for life, make it clear, make it firm,” he said, calling for a moment of silence for all the civilians and innocents who have perished during this war. 

11:05 AM

From the podium of the General Assembly Hall, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Erdan presented a video on a tablet, turning the screen towards the delegates, that he said depicted a brutal decapitation with a garden tool against a helpless agricultural worker from Thailand.

‘No words’ for evil of Hamas

“There are no words in any language to describe the evil we just witnessed,” at the hands of a Hamas militant, he said, adding that it is not describable because it has no place in humankind.

“ISIS was the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Hamas is the Islamic State of Gaza. Just as was done with ISIS, Hamas must be no more,” he declared, stating that the goal of Israel is to “completely eradicate Hamas’ capabilities and we will use every means at our disposal to accomplish this.”

“Not for revenge, not for retaliation. But to ensure such depravity and atrocity never occurs again,” said the Israeli ambassador.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Israel addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Israel addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

10:58 AM

At war with Hamas: Israel

Gilad Erdan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Israel to UN, said that the 7 October massacre and what ensued “has nothing” to do with the Palestinians, the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Palestinian question.

“This is not a war with the Palestinians, he said. “Israel is at war with the genocidal jihadist Hamas terror organization. It is the law abiding democracy of Israel against modern day Nazis.”

He went on to note that Hamas does not care about Palestinian people, peace or dialogue. Its only goal is to “annihilate Israel and murder every single Jew on the face of the Earth.”

Mr. Erdan spoke of the brutal killings of innocent Israeli civilians and intentional targeting of Israeli medical teams that were trying to help the injured during the terror attack. He questioned the “hypocrisy” that there is not a single condemnation of the barbarity against Israelis.

“The hypocrisy is beyond belief,” he stressed.

Emergency workers in Israel respond to missile attacks.

© Magen David Adom Israel

Emergency workers in Israel respond to missile attacks.

10:44 AM

Riyad Mansour, recalling Israel’s recent comments in the UN Security Council about how its people are suffering, said Palestinians are suffering too. Israel’s representative had called to “release the hostages, then takes two million Palestinians hostage”, he added.

There are 1,000 Palestinians killed every day, he said, adding that nothing can justify war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Why not feel a sense of urgency to ending the killing,” he said. “You are setting us back 80 years by trying to justify what Israel is doing now.”

The Al Shati refugee camp in Gaza has been hit by air strikes.

© UNICEF/Mohammad Ajjour

The Al Shati refugee camp in Gaza has been hit by air strikes.

Decades of occupation

Palestinians have survived decades of occupation, 16 years of a blockade and five wars in Gaza, he said.

The answer to the killing of Israelis and Palestinians is not more killing, he said, asking the UN membership to uphold UN principles and keep future generations from the scourge of war.

“The only path forward is justice for the Palestinian people,” he said.

“Vote to stop the killing, vote to stop this madness,” he said. “Choose justice, not vengeance. Choose peace, not more wars. Vote to put an end to almost three weeks of the worst double standards we have seen in decades. Do not miss this chance. Lives are hanging in the balance. Please, save lives, save lives, save lives.”

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

10:32 AM

Meeting amidst death in Gaza: Palestine

“We are meeting here while Palestinians in Gaza are under the bombs,” Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said, speaking first. 

“You are speaking while families are being killed, while hospitals are coming to a halt, while neighbourhoods are being destroyed, while people are fleeing from one place to another with no safe place to go.”

“There is no time to mourn,” he said tearfully, pointing to the rising death toll. “If you do not stop it for all those who have been killed, stop it for all those who can be saved.”

Citing personal accounts of life on the ground, he said humanitarian aid is badly needed. Hospitals are operating without anaesthetics, with doctors and patients alike wondering if help is on the way.

“This time, it’s just too much,” he said.

10:17 AM 

Mr. Francis said he was “deeply disturbed and distraught” at the events unfolding in Israel and Palestine.

“Yet again, we gather amidst the gravest escalation of violence and hostility in the Middle East in decades.”

The violence “must end now”, he declared, calling for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire and the opening of aid corridors.

Watch the assembly president’s full address here:

He voiced his condemnation of the attack on Israel by Hamas on 7 October, stating “the brutality of the Hamas assault is shocking and unacceptable and has no place in our world.”

He also condemned the indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians in Gaza and the destruction of critical infrastructure by Israel, he said, adding that “the ceaseless bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israel and its consequences are deeply alarming.”

‘Protect and save lives’

Assembly President Francis underscored that the preeminent priority of the collective UN membership “must be to protect and to save civilian lives.”

“All parties to this conflict must abide by international humanitarian law, and immediately create the necessary conditions to allow for an opening of humanitarian corridor to the Gaza Strip,” he said, emphasizing that urgently needed lifesaving assistance must reach those in need.

He also praised the work of UN personnel in Gaza, offering condolences to the families of the 35 UNRWA staff members who were killed since the start of the crisis.

General Assembly President Dennis Francis addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

10:10 AM

The President of the General Assembly Dennis Francis gavelled the session open shortly after 10 but he will make the first address in the ornate General Assembly Hall.

He reminded delegates that the emergency session is reconvening following a request by Member States and letters signed by Jordan, Mauritania, Nicaragua and Russia, together with Syria.

Members who have not paid their dues aren’t allowed to vote in General Assembly meetings like this, but Mr. Francis agreed by general consent to allow those in arrears a waiver so they can take part. 

09:00 AM (New York)

The tenth Emergency Special Session of the Assembly is expected to start at 10 AM, New York time, and as of now, 110 speakers are inscribed on the list.

The State of Palestine is expected to address Member States first, with Israel expected to go second.

Emergency Special Session

Under the “Uniting for Peace” landmark resolution, adopted by the General Assembly in 1950, the body can convene an “emergency special session” within 24 hours, should the Security Council “fail to exercise its primary responsibility” for the maintenance of international peace and security.

This tenth Emergency Special Session was convened for the first time in April 1997, following a request from Qatar. It followed a series of Security Council and General Assembly meetings regarding the Israeli decision to build a large housing project in an area of East Jerusalem.

The Session last came together on 13 June 2018 to consider a draft resolution entitled “Protection of the Palestinian civilian population”.

At the end of that session, the Assembly decided to adjourn “temporarily and to authorize the President of the General Assembly at its most recent session to resume its meeting upon request from Member States.”

Ongoing crisis

According to several UN agencies on the ground, critical lifesaving supplies, fuels to keep hospitals running and drinking water is running out.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Security Council failed to adopt two resolutions on addressing the humanitarian crisis. China and Russia vetoed a United States-led draft resolution and a second Russian-backed resolution failed to secure sufficient votes in favour.

This followed failures for unity at the Council, last week. A Russian-led draft resolution calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” was voted down last Monday and the following Wednesday, the US vetoed a Brazilian-led text that urged “humanitarian pauses” to deliver aid to millions in the Gaza Strip.

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