Scotland’s First Minister slams the UK for abstaining in UN vote for peace in Gaza
The First Minister of Scotland has blasted the UK for abstaining in the UN Assembly vote for a ceasefire in Gaza. On Friday 27th October the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce’ between Israel and Hamas. While the vast majority, 120 out of the 192-member body supported the resolution, 14 voted against and 45 abstained. All Arab nations voted to support the resolution. The UK decision to abstain, along with a small number of other members including Canada and India, stood in stark contrast to the position adopted by UK’s neighbor, Ireland, who fully supported the motion.
Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, posted a comment on Twitter, which revealed that he had not heard from his family members stuck in Gaza, in recent days and ever since the communications blackout imposed by Israel at the end of last week. In an obvious direct reference to the UN vote, he also stated:
'How do you sleep at night?'
‘My concern is for all the innocent people suffering for a crime they did not commit. If you do not vote for peace, while children are dying, then I do not know how you sleep at night’
Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister for Defence, Micheal Martin, issued a statement following the UN vote, which said:
‘Tonight, Ireland supported the UN General Assembly Resolution on the crisis in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip requires the international community to speak strongly. The resolution emphasises the urgent need for humanitarian assistance which civilians in Gaza so desperately need’
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, says his government calls for a ceasefire and 'millions of citizens deserve nothing less'
While he continued by expressing a disappointment that an amendment put forward by Canada, condemning the Hamas attack and calling for hostage release was not approved, he firmly recognised the need for all parties to adhere to international law. He added:
‘We also recall that obligations under International Humanitarian Law fall to all parties, state and non-state actors alike. I will continue to work for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire, the protection of civilians and regional de-escalation. Millions of citizens deserve nothing less’
Senior parliamentary members of the Scottish National Party were outspoken about the UK’s failure to support the motion. Muslim MSP, Kaukab Stewart, who is of Pakistan origins, described the abstention of the UK as a ‘disgrace’, while Kevin Stewart MSP, a former cabinet minister, said:
‘Why on earth did the UK abstain on this resolution? Do they want civilians to suffer?’
70% of those killed in Gaza were women and children, according to Palestinian Ambassador to the UN
News of the vote on Friday coincided with a vigil which took place outside the UK Foreign Office, which saw hundreds of children and parents pinning teddy bears and cuddly toys to the railings and gates at the entrance to the government office in protest of the governments refusal to add its support to the call for a ceasefire. The organisers declared that each toy represented a Palestinian child killed by the Israeli bombardment and the names of the dead 3,000 children were read out. One of the organisers of ‘Parents for Palestine’, Kate Joseph, said:
‘We cannot imagine the pain and fear that parents in Gaza are going through. Every child everywhere deserves safety – every single life is sacred. How are we to explain to our children that our government is actively endorsing the murder of children in Palestine? That we are exporting bombs and refusing to call for a ceasefire?’
The poignancy of the vigil was underlined by the announcement by the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, who declared that 70% of those killed in Gaza were children and women.