Italy abstains in UN vote on Gaza truce. Image from wikimedia under creative commons license

Italy abstains in UN General Assembly vote on Gaza truce


Premier Giorgia Meloni stood firm on Saturday, defending the government’s choice to abstain in a United Nations General Assembly vote concerning a resolution for a truce in Gaza. She described it as “the most balanced position” and emphasised that it aligns with the stance of most EU, European, and G7 nations.

The objective was to maintain equilibrium, as both a “for” and “against” vote would have moved Italy from its current position. This decision was deemed the most responsible approach to prevent an escalation of the conflict.

Ambassador Maurizio Massari, Italy’s Permanent Representative to the UN, clarified that Italy did not support the non-binding resolution primarily because it failed to condemn Hamas. This viewpoint was shared by Israel and the United States. Massari pointed out that the resolution lacked a clear condemnation of Hamas’s attacks on Israel, did not acknowledge Israel’s right to self-defence, and omitted the demand for the immediate, unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas on October 7th.

Criticism from opposition parties

However, this decision faced criticism from Democratic Party (PD) leader Elly Schlein, who considered it a mistake for Italy to abstain and not support the UN resolution on a humanitarian truce. On the other hand, former Prime Minister and 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Giuseppe Conte strongly criticised the government’s move, drawing a parallel to Pontius Pilate’s actions during the trial of Jesus. He argued that Italy’s justifications were insufficient, as the United Nations had already addressed these issues following the October 7 attacks.

Conte questioned whether the Italian government intended to suggest that the 120 United Nations member states supporting the resolution were endorsing Hamas and asked if countries like France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, and others had expressed their support for Hamas terrorists or simply affirmed a clear position in line with international humanitarian law.

Italy preparing to send aid to Gaza

Meloni also said Italy was preparing to take aid to the Gaza Strip via sea. “I am in constant contact with (Defence) Minister (Guido) Crosetto and our allies,” Meloni told reporters in Acqualagna.

“We have a multi-dimensional patrol vessel that is ready to reach the waters off Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid. And we have two more frigates and an amphibious ship, if needed, as well as field hospitals”.

She said the release of the hostages Hamas took in its attacks on Israel on October 7 was crucial to de-escalating the situation.

“We hope there will be news (about the hostages), at one point it seemed there was going to be,” she said. “News (on this front) would be very important to reach a de-escalation”.

She added Italy was doing “painstaking work” on the diplomatic level “with great responsibility and balance” within the European Council and the UN. 

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