Malta backs United Nations call for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

UNGA resolution calls for rescinding of ‘occupying power’ Israel’s evacuation order in Gaza Strip north of Wadi Gaza

Foreign minister Ian Borg addresses a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East on 24 October, 2023
Foreign minister Ian Borg addresses a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East on 24 October, 2023

Malta voted in favour of an immediate humanitarian truce from the United Nations inside Gaza as the tiny strip of land occupied by Israeli military forces since 2008, kept being pounded mercilessly by the IDF.

On Friday, the UN’s General Assembly suspended its emergency meeting on Israel and Gaza to hold a vote on a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce.

The resolution was drafted by Jordan and co-sponsored by over 40 other UN member states, coming on the heels of failed efforts at the Security Council earlier this week to secure an immediate ceasefire.

The latter’s vote failed at the 15-member Security Council, first after members refused to back a Russian draft that did not condemn the Islamic militia Hamas; later when America vetoed a Brazilian draft that did not give Israel ample recognition for its right of self-defence.

Diplomatic action shifted to the 193-member UN General Assembly where no country has a veto, but where resolutions are not binding.

Voting began with a Canadian amendment to the Jordan draft which included a direct condemnation of Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack. Malta backed this amendment, but it failed to garner the required two-thirds majority to pass, with 88 in favour, 53 against, and 23 abstentions.

With that amendment failed, the General Assembly voted on the original resolution which called for “an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.”

Malta voted in favour with the resolution garnering a two-thirds majority with 120 affirmative, 14 against and 45 abstentions.

But the United States and Israel were isolated in their opposition, and some EU countries – Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary – voted against.

In the resolution “protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations”, the Assembly, also demanded that all parties “immediately and fully comply” with obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws, “particularly in regard to the protection of civilians and civilian objects.”

It also urged the protection of humanitarian personnel, persons hors de combat, and humanitarian facilities and assets, and to enable and facilitate humanitarian access for essential supplies and services to reach all civilians in need in the Gaza Strip.”

Furthermore, the resolution called for rescinding of the order by Israel, “the occupying Power”, for Palestinian civilians, UN staff and humanitarian workers to evacuate all areas in the Gaza Strip north of Wadi Gaza and relocate to the south.

The General Assembly also called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all civilians being illegally held captive, demanding their safety, well-being and humane treatment in compliance with international law.

It also reaffirmed that a “just and lasting solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on the relevant UN resolutions and in accordance with international law, and on the basis of the two-State solution.

The Assembly also decides to adjourn the tenth emergency special session temporarily and to authorize the President of the General Assembly at its most recent session to resume its meeting upon request from member states.