UN calls on Israel, Palestinian groups to end their conflict, urges enquiry into Israeli actions

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Qatar called an emergency meeting of the General Assembly on Saturday to debate the ceasefire resolution that fell at the Security Council last week on account of a veto by the United States. After some amendment, the General Assembly passed the resolution with a large majority. 156 countries supported, seven opposed and six abstained in the vote. Among those opposing were Israel, the United States and Australia.

The resolution calls on both Israel and Palestine to stop their violent activities: the Palestinian firing of rockets into Israel and the Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory.

The reason given by Ambassador Bolton for opposing the motion was that it served the interests of those “hostile to Israel's inalienable and recognised right to exist”. Attempts to form a party of national unity in Palestine are being thwarted by failure to agree on this point. Although Fatah would acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, Hamas is opposing any such statement. The UN resolution also instructed the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to investigate the killing of 19 people by shell fire in Beit Hanoun in Gaza. At least 12 artillery shells landed on the village because, according to the Israelis, of a “tragic mistake”.

Reports are now coming in of a repeat of the “civil defence” measures taken on Saturday by civilians swarming around and over a house targeted for demolition by Israeli military forces. On this occasion, the house is occupied by a senior member of Hamas, the ruling party. It is located in Beit Lahiya in the north of the Gaza strip.