20 countries abstained and 6 countries opposed a ‘draft decision’ on 23 May, proposing support to Palestine in its endeavour to provide health services in the current conflict ridden situation. Discussions on this issue were part of the agenda of the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organisation’s annual high level global event in Geneva, which is taking place this year between May 21-26.
The draft decision titled “ Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” was proposed by the delegations of Algeria, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Yemen
Discussions on this agenda item revolved around a report by the WHO on health conditions in Palestine, available here. At the end of the discussions countries voted on the draft decision (The draft decision on which the voting took place can be downloaded here.) 90 countries voted in favour, 6 voted against (Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Israel, UK, US), and 20 abstained (Austria, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Slovakia). The voting details are available on p.10 of this document
What is particularly shocking about the votes against and abstentions is that the vote comes at a time when there are horrendous reports of Israeli military action in the Israeli occupied territories of Palestine – leading to a massacre of over 60 civilians in Gaza on May 14. More details of this are available here.