The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on Friday afternoon, October 27, calling for an "immediate, durable, and sustained humanitarian truce" between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza. Four EU countries voted against the resolution; Estonia and 13 other EU countries abstained. Estonia abstained because the amendment seeking an unequivocal condemnation of Hamas failed to pass, Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) told ERR on Friday.
It is the UN's first formal response to the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine since the Hamas terror attacks on October 7.
The resolution also demands "continuous, sufficient and unhindered" provision of lifesaving supplies and services for civilians trapped inside the enclave, as news reports suggest Israel has expanded ground operations and intensified its bombing campaign, the UN reports.
The European Union's UN Representative Olof Skoog said that there is urgency to provide safe, rapid, unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need, by all possible means, whether a "corridor" or a "humanitarian pause" – but this must not be exploited by terrorists.
After four unsuccessful Security Council votes, a non-binding resolution was adopted Friday afternoon, October 27, by an overwhelming majority of Member States, with 120 in favor, 14 against, and 45 abstentions.
Fourteen EU countries abstained: Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and the Netherlands.
Four EU countries voted against the resolution: Austria, Croatia, Czechia and Hungary.
An amendment put forward by Canada and backed by more than 35 Member States, including the US, seeking an unequivocal condemnation of Hamas, however, failed to pass.
Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) told ERR that Estonia abstained because the amendment did not pass.
"It is important for us to call things by their names – to call Hamas a terrorist organization, to call it all a terrorist attack, and to state very clearly that Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. In the same way, we say in our other resolutions that Russia is an aggressor state and Ukraine has the right to defend itself. I do not want to lump them together, but our foreign policy position is that we have to call things by their right names," Tsahkna said.
Ukraine is also among the 45 countries that abstained from voting on the resolution.
MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa) said that the vote on the Gaza resolution showed weakness. "This resolution on the ceasefire says nothing about the real situation. In fact, today Israel has the right to defend itself. Of course, the humanitarian situation in the region must be taken into account and humanitarian pauses were agreed. And this was the formulation for which the European Union stood for, but it could not be defended in a coherent way – this shows the weakness of the European Union's foreign policy," he said.
The chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson (Reform) said that the unity of European countries would be beneficial for Estonia's security. "This is not a regional war. Sadly, this war is intricately connected to the one in Ukraine. Hamas is supported by Russia, Iran, North Korea and China, albeit indirectly," Mihkelson said.
Gilad Erdan, ambassador of Israel to the UN, said in response to the resolution passing that "today is a day that will go down in infamy."
"We have all witnessed that the UN holds not even one ounce of legitimacy," he said.
"We know there is no humanitarian crisis in accordance with international humanitarian law," he added, noting that every statistic about Gaza comes from Hamas.
France's Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière speaking after the resolution passed, said that his delegation voted in favor, as "nothing justifies the killing of civilians."
"We have a duty to prevent a worsening of the situation," he said. "The only viable solution is a two-state solution."
The United Kingdom's minister for the Middle East, Tariq Ahmad, called on all parties to respect international humanitarian law – for the unconditional release of hostages and unhindered humanitarian access.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, ambassador and permanent representative of US to the UN, said that Israel was exercising its right and responsibility to defend its people from Hamas, but "it must do so in line with rules of war" and with respect for international humanitarian law.
The US criticized the resolution for not mentioning the extremist group Hamas.
The Israeli armed forces said on Saturday, October 28, that their fighter jets fired air strikes on 150 underground targets in the northern Gaza Strip during a (Friday 27) night raid in the war with Hamas. Israel blocked internet and telephone communications in Gaza.
This article has been updated with comments from Estonian officials.
Editor: Kristina Kersa
Source: BNS, The Guardian, UN Press