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UN demands immediate ceasefire in Gaza

January 17, 2009 11:59 IST

The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted a resolution demanding "an immediate, durable and fully respected" ceasefire in the troubled Gaza Strip, leading to withdrawal of all Israeli forces.

The non-binding amended resolution came after the Assembly rejected another draft sponsored by Ecuador and backed by some Islamic countries which would have sharply criticised Israel.

The resolution, which is on the lines of one adopted by the UN Security Council recently, was overwhelmingly approved by the 192-member Assembly with 142 votes in favour. Opposing the resolution were the US, Israel and the Pacific Island of Nauru, which argued that it was biased against Tel Aviv.

Diplomats said the moderate text adopted last night would help in the peace efforts being made by Egypt. The resolution which was rejected had radical text.

The compromise text was negotiated by Egypt on behalf of the Palestinian Authority with the European Union. It dropped an earlier reference to Israel as "the occupying power" in Gaza and inserted a sentence "emphasising that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected and their suffering must end."

However, the Assembly resolutions are non-binding and have no teeth except for the moral value. But they do show the will of the majority of members of the world body and thus could be a tool of pressure, diplomats say.

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