Arab states pull WHO resolution condemning Israel after amendment calling for release of hostages

GENEVA, May 29, 2024 — The Arab group of states today pulled their draft resolution condemning Israel at the WHO’s annual assembly after an amendment was adopted that called for the release of all hostages held in Gaza and condemned the use by armed groups of hospitals and ambulances.

The initial 4-page draft resolution, written by the Palestinians and Syria, and submitted to the 77th World Heath Assembly by Iran, Syria, China, Russia, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar and others, accused Israel of “using starvation as a weapon of war,” “wanton destruction of the Palestinian health system,” and causing “forcibly internally displaced civilians.”

All of this was withdrawn by the Arab states, however, after Israel successfully amended the text to introduce a single sentence that “Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held in Gaza, including children, women and older persons, and condemns the use, by armed groups, of health facilities, including hospitals and ambulances, that endangers the civilian population.”

The Israeli-backed amendment was adopted by a vote of 50 to 44, with 31 abstentions. All Western democracies voted in support — except for Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Slovenia, which abstained. See full vote below.

Egypt then took the floor on behalf of the Arab Group to withdraw the entire resolution, in opposition to the amendment that called for the release of the Israeli hostages in Gaza.

“In light of the results of this vote, the Arab Group would like to express its sadness. It regrets the politicized and biased nature of the amendment made to a draft decision which is of a technical and procedural nature,” said the Egyptian delegate.

This amendment seeks to justify targeting health facilities and putting the lives of citizens in danger. It also targets health facilities. In light of this result, we would like to say that the Arab Group regretfully decides to withdraw the draft decision and would like to put on the international community the responsibility for this failure in adopting a draft decision which is of a technical and procedural nature in order to help the Palestinians at a time when they are subjected to a systematic bombing and shelling of health facilities while the international community turns a blind eye.

Debate on the agenda item targeting Israel has been suspended until Friday, May 31st. 



Voting Results on Amendment Calling for Release of Israeli Hostages in Gaza:

YES (50)

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Ukraine, Uruguay, United States

NO (44)

Algeria, Angola, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, China, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, North Korea, Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Uganda, Gambia 


Armenia, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Botswana, Chile, Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guinea, Ireland, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Norway, Peru, Slovenia, Tanzania, Thailand, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe



The draft decision titled “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” has been passed at the World Health Assembly every year since 1968 and was the only recurring resolution adopted by the assembly condemning a single country until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

UN Watch