UN Security Council calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza despite US abstention

The United Nations Security Council on Monday passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for the remaining weeks of Ramadan, ending a five-month stalemate in which it vetoed three calls by the United States to cease fighting. A breakthrough was made.

The resolution passed with 14 votes in favor, with the United States abstaining, and U.S. officials said this was partly because the resolution did not condemn Hamas. In addition to a ceasefire, the resolution also called for the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages” and the removal of “all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately criticized the United States for allowing the resolution to pass, ordering a delegation that was scheduled to go to Washington for high-level talks with American officials to instead remain in Israel. President Biden had asked these meetings to discuss alternatives to Israel’s planned attack on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where more than 1 million people have fled. American officials said such an operation would cause a humanitarian disaster.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the US abstention from voting was a “clear departure from the United States’ consistent position on the Security Council since the beginning of the war” and “damages both the war effort and hostage release efforts.” Ta.

Israeli government officials have indicated that they do not intend to implement the resolution at this time. “The State of Israel will not stop shelling. We will continue the fight until we destroy Hamas and every last hostage returns home,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote on social media.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who had already traveled to Washington for talks with senior Biden administration officials, similarly gave no indication that Israel would implement a ceasefire.

“We will carry out operations against Hamas everywhere, even in places we have not yet been,” he said. He added: “We have no moral right to stop the war while there are still hostages in Gaza.”

The White House sought to downplay the growing rift with Israel. National Security Council spokesman John F. Kirby insisted he sees no change in U.S. policy. He said there had been no formal notice that the entire delegation from Israel would not be coming to Washington, but “we are looking forward to meeting the delegates later this week to explore viable options and alternatives to key land.” I was looking forward to the opportunity to speak with the group,” he added. At Rafa he is aggressive. ”

“We felt there were valuable lessons to share,” Kirby said. He noted that Gallant is still scheduled to meet with Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, as well as Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

The passage of the resolution was greeted with applause within the Security Council.

“Finally, finally, the Security Council has taken on that responsibility,” said Amal Bendjama, Algeria’s ambassador to the United Nations and the only Arab member of the council. “We are finally responding to the call of the international community.”

The resolution, submitted by 10 non-permanent members, was subject to intense negotiations until the last minute, with the United States requesting amendments to the text.

Mohamed Rady, 37, who was sheltering under a tent in Rafah, said the idea that the war would end after months of fighting was a dream.

Asked about the resolution, he said by phone: “The situation hasn’t changed and I don’t see people celebrating.” “We’re still at war.”

said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who is in talks with Arab leaders in the Middle East about the war. in a social media post “This resolution must be implemented. Failure is not an option.”

In recent years, the United States has rarely broken with Israel on the Security Council. In 2009, toward the end of President George W. Bush’s term, the United States abstained from a cease-fire resolution regarding the recent Gaza war. Under President Barack Obama, he abstained from a 2016 resolution on Israeli settlements. And three months ago, it again abstained on a resolution on humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Richard Gowan, a UN expert on international crises, said: “The crucial variable is that the Biden administration is clearly not satisfied with Israel’s current military posture, and allowing this resolution to pass would be “It was a relatively gentle way of expressing that concern.” group. “But the abstention is a not-so-coded hint to Prime Minister Netanyahu to rein in operations across Rafah in particular.”

Since the war began, the United States has agreed with Israel’s position that Israel has the right to defend itself, that a permanent ceasefire would benefit Hamas, and that such a resolution could jeopardize diplomacy. and has vetoed three previous resolutions calling for a ceasefire. I talk. As the war’s civilian death toll rises, these vetoes infuriate many diplomats and U.N. officials and create a rift with staunch U.S. allies in Europe, including France.

Russia and China have since vetoed two alternative resolutions submitted by the United States, the latest of which was last Friday. The reason for this was that the proposal did not explicitly call for a ceasefire.

The United States has been heavily criticized by many leaders for failing to persuade close ally Israel to halt or scale back its bombing and ground invasion in the Gaza Strip. Health officials in the Gaza Strip say around 32,000 people have died and most residents have been evacuated. The population decreased and most areas fell into ruins.

Israel went to war after a Hamas-led attack in the Gaza Strip on October 7 that killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took more than 250 hostages, Israeli officials said. It started. Israeli leaders continue to insist that their objectives, including the defeat of Hamas, have not yet been fully realized and that they cannot support a permanent ceasefire.

Security Council resolutions are considered international law. The Security Council also has no means of enforcing resolutions, but it could impose sanctions or other punitive measures on Israel as long as member states agree.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the adopted resolution is in line with diplomatic efforts by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt to broker a ceasefire in exchange for the release of hostages held in Gaza. Ta. She said he abstained because he did not agree with all of the resolutions, including the U.S. decision not to condemn the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

“A ceasefire, for any length of time, must be accompanied by the release of the hostages. This is the only way forward,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.

Diplomats said the United States wanted to change the wording to remove “permanent ceasefire” and replace it with “permanent ceasefire,” and to make the release of the hostages a condition of the truce. This is in line with the country’s policy and ongoing negotiations with Qatar and Egypt.

The resolution adopted on Monday calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, but does not make their release conditional on calling for a ceasefire. Ms Thomas-Greenfield said the resolution was “non-binding”.

The U.S.-backed resolution, which was rejected on Friday, also condemned Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack and called on U.N. member states to limit funding to Palestinian militants.

A failed resolution drafted by the United States said the Security Council would “determine the urgency of an immediate and lasting ceasefire,” but the resolution passed Monday is much more concise and direct. It was something. It called for “an immediate ceasefire during the month of Ramadan, respected by all parties, leading to a permanent and sustainable ceasefire.”

There are only two weeks left in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The resolution also deplores “all attacks against civilians” and “all acts of terrorism,” citing hostage-taking in particular.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan accused the council of being biased against Israel for not taking steps to help secure hostages taken in the Gaza Strip. He said all council members should have “voted against this shameful resolution.”

As images of starving children, massacres, and massive destruction of civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip spread, pressure mounted on the Security Council to take action and to avoid a U.S. veto. ing.

“When such atrocities are committed in broad daylight against defenseless civilians, including women and children, the only moral, legal and political thing to do is to end it. ” said Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour. to the United Nations, he told the Council.

International aid agencies, which have been calling for a ceasefire in Gaza for months, welcomed the resolution, calling for respite for civilians and the delivery of food, medicine, water and other vital supplies to aid workers, in a statement. He said the resolution needed to be implemented immediately to make this possible. Items of the required scale.

“A ceasefire is the only way to ensure the protection of civilians and is central to scaling up humanitarian assistance to safely reach people in desperate situations. This resolution marks an important shift. The International Rescue Committee said in a statement.

Hamas, which is holding more than 100 hostages captured in the October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the war, welcomed the Security Council resolution in a statement to Telegram. It added that the Palestinian militants intend to “immediately engage in a prisoner exchange process that will lead to the release of prisoners on both sides.”

The resolution passed on Monday also called on both sides to “comply with their obligations under international law with respect to all persons in their custody.”

Iyad Abuheweira Contributed to the report.

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