US votes against motion for cease-fire in Gaza

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By Matthew Hirsch for GroundUp

A special meeting of Stellenbosch University rejected a motion to warn the university to make a request for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The result was 101 to 80 votes with 18 abstentions, according to the minister of higher education, Blade Nzimande. He expressed his “extreme displeasure and disappointment” at the result.

The motion follows a statement signed by 103 senate members condemning the deaths of academics and staff and the destruction of universities by Israel in Gaza.

A total of 92 senate members signed a statement on Tuesday with their “deep disappointment” about the senate’s voting.

“We warn the council and convocation of the university to take a clear stand against the destruction of the education system and daily life in Gaza,” the statement reads.

A contrary position by a member of the senate, which GroundUp had under consideration, warned that the motion should be rejected, as it is “an attempt to limit free academic discussions at the university”. “This is contrary to the nature of the university, contrary to the university’s own statutes and a threat to our institutional integrity,” reads the position.

According to Al Jazeera, every university in Gaza has been damaged or destroyed and more than 90 professors have been killed due to Israel’s bombings.

“Unfortunately, the (Stellenbosch) Senate did not approve the resolution on the Israel-Palestine crisis regarding the genocide and destruction of education in Gaza,” said Naledi Pandor, minister for international relations and cooperation, during a public lecture on Wednesday.

Pandor pointed out that the University of Fort Hare has requested an “immediate ceasefire” to be ratified by the United Nations, with access to humanitarian aid to Gaza distributed on an equal basis throughout the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, the senate of the Nelson Mandela University unanimously supported a request for a ceasefire in Gaza with an effective academic boycott of Israel.

“The situation in Gaza is worsening and there is an urgent need to introduce measures to achieve lasting peace. This places a responsibility on all academic institutions to respond to this ongoing crisis,” reads the statement.

Wits University staff and students gathered on campus on Tuesday to request the university to take a public stance on the ongoing war in Gaza.

The University of the Western Cape’s council also requested a ceasefire in a statement in April.

The University of Cape Town’s senate also requested a ceasefire in November last year.

  • This report is originally posted on GroundUp and used with permission.

UN chief calls for ‘immediate ceasefire’

By AFP

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, on Sunday requested an immediate end to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, that hostages be returned and an increase in humanitarian aid to the occupied Palestinian territory.

“I repeat my request, the world’s request, for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages and an immediate increase in humanitarian aid,” Guterres said in a video message to an international donor conference in Kuwait.

“However, a ceasefire is only the beginning. It will be a long way after the devastation and trauma of the war,” he added.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza continued on Sunday after it extended an evacuation order for Rafah, despite the international alarm over its military incursion into the eastern parts of the city. A key intersection in the area is blocked.

“The war in Gaza is causing terrible human suffering, the destruction of lives. It tears families apart and large numbers of people are homeless, hungry and traumatized,” he added.

His speech was delivered at the opening of the conference in Kuwait organized by the International Islamic Charities (IIC) and the UN humanitarian cooperation organization Ocha.

The war broke out when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023. More than 1,170 people, mainly civilians, have died, according to an AFP tally based on Israel’s official figures.

Israel launched a counterattack on Hamas. According to the Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry, more than 34,971 people in Gaza, mainly women and children, have already died.