Palestine to call for Israel arms embargo at UN after Gaza ceasefire veto by US

Palestine to call for Israel arms embargo at UN after Gaza ceasefire veto by US
The State of Palestine and a group of Arab countries will submit a resolution to the UN General Assembly calling for an arms embargo on Israel.
4 min read
23 February, 2024
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour announced the new steps being taken at the UN's headquarter's in New York [Getty]

Palestine will present a draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) calling for an arms embargo on Israel.

The Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour spoke during a press conference at the bloc's headquarters in New York on Thursday just days after the US vetoed an Algerian motion for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Mansour said the US veto forced Palestine and the Arab Group at the UN to rethink their strategy in pressuring Israel to end its unprecedented war on Gaza.

Mansour confirmed that the new resolution will be drafted and presented with the full backing of the Arab Group within the General Assembly and will discuss ending arms sales to Israel as well as other matters.

"In the draft resolution before the General Assembly, we will include practical matters, among which is the call for countries not to sell weapons to Israel or supply it with ammunition, and also to deal with the settlers and not give them travel visas to any country," Mansour said according to The New Arab's Arabic sister outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The latest US veto of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza comes as Israel prepares to launch a ground invasion of the southern city of Rafah, a move which even most of its allies is warning it against.

Rafah is crammed full of almost half the population of Gaza's 2.2 million population, who have fled Israel’s onslaught elsewhere in the Strip.

The potential Palestinian and Arab Group resolution calling for an arms embargo on Israel might be considered a means of pressuring the country to rethink its planned attack on Rafah. 

Many Western countries are facing challenges over the sale of arms to its ally following the International Court of Justice's ruling that Israel was plausibly committing genocide in Gaza.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Office (OCHR) issued a press release from UN human rights experts saying that any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately.

"All States must ‘ensure respect’ for international humanitarian law by parties to an armed conflict, as required by 1949 Geneva Conventions and customary international law,” the experts said.

“States must accordingly refrain from transferring any weapon or ammunition – or parts for them – if it is expected, given the facts or past patterns of behaviour, that they would be used to violate international law.”

This comes after the Dutch appeals court ordered the Netherlands to stop the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing evidence that Israel was violating "the humanitarian law of war in a not insignificant number of cases. 

On Wednesday, the UK, one of Israel’s strongest supporters, said it might have to reconsider selling arms to its ally if it presses ahead with a ground invasion of Rafah, due to concerns of it violating international humanitarian law.

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In addition to the arms embargo, Mansour also declared that the Arab Group is also working on an initiative to support a Security Council resolution for voting on the accession of Palestine as a full member of the UN as soon as possible.

Mansour said this step is a direct response to the Israeli Knesset’s vote on Wednesday rejecting any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state amid possible renewed international support for a two-state solution in light of Israel's war on Gaza.

"The establishment of the Palestinian state is part of expressing our right to self-determination as the Palestinian people. This is not up for negotiation nor are we waiting for anyone's permission for it,” Mansour said.

"This is an exclusive, natural, and legal right of the Palestinian people to exercise on their own, and it's not Israel or anyone else who gives us the permission and timing for when to exercise it."

Palestine currently only has observer membership of the UN, with full membership being blocked by the US within the UN Security Council.