September 22, 2018

U.N. ECOSOC Votes Down Amendment Calling for Hamas to Release Captured Israelis

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) overwhelmingly voted down an amendment to a resolution calling for Hamas to release captured Israelis.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the resolution heavily criticized Israel and called on the Jewish state to stop building settlements and allow unfettered crossings at the Gaza border. No blame was placed upon Hamas for its role in the conflict.

In response, Israel proposed a one-line amendment that advocated for Hamas to release the two Israeli civilians they were holding in captivity, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon argued that the two Israelis held by Hamas “mentally disabled and in need of immediate medical attention.”

The amendment was voted down 18-5, with 23 abstentions.

Every member of the European Union (EU) abstained from the amendment, prompting Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon to tweet that the EU’s move was “disappointing.”

The EU instead put forward text that called for all bodies being held in the Israel-Palestinian conflict to be released. That text was subsequently approved by ECOSOC.

The resolution passed by a margin of 45 votes in favor and two against, with the only countries voting against it being the United States and Canada.

U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador Kelley Currie slammed the resolution for being “unbalanced” and “unfairly” criticizing Israel

“This document only serves to inflame both sides of the conflict and complicate our shared goal of advancing Israeli and Palestinian peace,” Currie said.

Hamas acknowledged that it was holding the four Israelis in 2016, two years after they captured them. The two Israeli civilians, Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, were captured after climbing the Israel-Gaza fence. Mengistu’s family has described him as “unwell” due to his mental health issues; similarly al-Sayed “has mild psychological issues and has a history of entering Jordan, Egypt and Gaza,” per the Times of Israel.

The two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, were killed in the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict.

According to U.N. Watch, ECOSOC is the gatekeeper body that decides who goes on the U.N. Human Rights Council Countries with documented human rights violations, such as China, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, are represented on ECOSOC.