WHO demands immediate end to Gaza blockade
The World Health Organization demanded Tuesday that Israel end a blockade on the occupied Palestinian territories, saying that it was causing a shortage of medicines, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
An annual meeting of the WHO -- the World Health Assembly -- this week in Geneva passed the resolution with 63 member states voting in favour. Eight states voted against, 51 abstained and another 63 were absent during the vote.
The resolution tabled by Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cuba, Libya, Kuwait, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan and Venezuela, "demands that Israel ... immediately put an end to the closure of the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly the closure of the crossing points of the occupied Gaza Strip that are causing the serious shortage of medicines and medical supplies therein."
It also demanded "unhindered and safe passage for Palestinian ambulances as well as respect and protection of medical personnel."
In addition, the resolution asked Israel to facilitate the access of Palestinian patients and medical workers to health institutions in occupied east Jerusalem and abroad.
The United States was among countries that opposed the resolution, saying that it stirred up tensions.
The European Union abstained from the vote, saying that it had sought a "more balanced" text that put the focus on health but that this was not reflected by the resolution.
In 2009, the health assembly had already passed a resolution calling that the blockade be lifted immediately.
© 2010 AFP