UNSC votes for US-drafted Gaza ceasefire resolution

The United Nations Security Council on Monday adopted a US-drafted resolution supporting a ceasefire plan in Gaza, as Washington leads an intense diplomatic campaign to push Hamas and Israel to accept the proposal.

The text – passed with 14 votes in favor and Russia abstaining – “welcomes” the truce and hostage release proposal announced on May 31 by President Joe Biden, and urges “parties to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

The resolution says Israel has “accepted the truce plan”, and “calls upon Hamas to also accept it.”

Hamas said Monday that it “welcomes” the vote.

The United States, a staunch ally of Israel, has been widely criticised for having blocked several previous UN draft resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

But Biden late last month launched a new US effort to secure a truce and hostage release.

“Today we voted for peace,” US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after the UN session.

“Today this Council sent a clear message to Hamas: accept the ceasefire deal on the table. Israel has already agreed to this deal and the fighting could stop today if Hamas would do the same.”

However the deal remains uncertain as Hamas officials have insisted that any ceasefire agreement must guarantee a “permanent end” to the war – a demand Israel has firmly rejected.

Under the proposal, Israel would withdraw from Gaza population centers and Hamas would free the hostages. The ceasefire would last an initial six weeks, with it extended as negotiators seek a permanent end to hostilities.

The “text is not perfect,” said Algeria’s UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama. “But it offers a glimmer of hope to the Palestinians, as the alternative is continued killing and suffering.”

After the vote, Israeli diplomat Reut Shapir Ben Naftaly emphasised that the “war will end” only when Israeli “goals are met,” including the release of hostages and the destruction of Hamas.

“Hamas’ refusal to release the hostages through diplomacy has proven that the effort to bring our hostages home must also include military means,” she said.

The Palestinian group had put forward a proposal to Israel immediately following the events of 7 October to exchange the captives for Palestinians held in Israeli jails – over 4,000 of whom are held without trial or charge, and 250 of whom are children.

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, meanwhile welcomed the council’s vote, stating that the “burden” of implementing the resolution and ceasefire “is on the Israeli side.”

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas added that he considered “the adoption of this resolution a step in the right direction to end the war of genocide against our people in the Gaza Strip.”

Since Israel began its relentless and indiscriminate military offensive against the besieged Gaza Strip on 7 October, killing over 37,000 people, most of whom were women and children, the UN Security Council has struggled to act.

Following two resolutions focused on humanitarian aid, the Security Council finally at the end of March demanded an “immediate ceasefire” for the duration of Ramadan, after the United States abstained from the vote.

The first phase of the truce would see an “immediate, full and complete ceasefire,” the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and the “withdrawal of Israeli forces from the populated areas in Gaza.”

This would also allow the “safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance at scale throughout the Gaza Strip to all Palestinian civilians who need it.”

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, countered that the council was singing on to the plan without “details” and “giving a carte blanche”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the latest effort to halt the eight months of war.

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