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After Months Of Deadlock, UN Security Council Demands Gaza Cease-Fire

  • World, NEWS
  • 6 min read

The U.N. Security Council broke months of deadlock Monday and adopted a resolution demanding an “immediate” cease-fire in Gaza.

“This must be a turning point. This must lead to saving lives on the ground,” an emotional Palestinian U.N. envoy, Riyad Mansour, told the council. “This must signal the end of this assault of atrocities against our people.”

The resolution “demands” an immediate cease-fire for the month of Ramadan, which is half over, “leading to a lasting sustainable cease-fire.” It also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, the lifting of all barriers to the provision of more humanitarian aid, and the protection of civilians in Gaza.

The text, put forward by the 10 elected members of the 15-nation council, was adopted in a vote of 14 in favor with the United States abstaining, allowing the measure to pass. This was the eighth time the council attempted to agree on a cease-fire resolution, and it was greeted with applause in the packed council chamber.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington abstained because, while some of their proposals were taken into account, the text did not include a condemnation of Hamas — a major U.S. demand throughout months of negotiations on previous failed cease-fire resolution attempts.

“However, as I said before, we fully support some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution. And we believe it was important for the Council to speak out and make clear that any cease-fire must come with the release of all hostages,” she said.

U.N. Security Council resolutions are international law, so it was not immediately clear why she believes it is not binding. Other council members reiterated that council decisions are binding and mandatory.

In Washington, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that “nothing, nothing has changed about our policy. Nothing.”

Israel’s envoy said the resolution is “shameful” because it does not condition the cease-fire on the release of hostages held by Hamas.

“It should be very clear that as long as Hamas refuses to release the hostages in the diplomatic channels, there is no other way to secure their return than through a military operation,” Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. representative, said.

The 10 elected council members said in a joint statement to reporters after the vote that they hope it will be implemented by all parties and will help ease the suffering of the population in Gaza.

Monday’s adoption comes after Russia and China vetoed the council’s last effort at a cease-fire Friday, which the United States drafted, and amid relentless calls for one from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who says starvation is “bearing down on Palestinians.”

In a post on social media platform X, Guterres said the resolution must be implemented, “Failure would be unforgivable.”

Speaking during a visit to Jordan on Monday, Guterres said the United Nations will keep pushing for more humanitarian access and entry points for aid, and he called for Israel not to institute any limitations or obstacles to aid deliveries.

International humanitarian groups have complained of a lack of access to get aid to Palestinian civilians, citing materials being rejected by Israeli inspectors, convoys being held up by Israel and a lack of access inside of Gaza because of the ongoing fighting.

Speaking specifically about the situation in northern Gaza, Guterres said, “it is absolutely essential to have a massive supply of humanitarian aid now.”

On Sunday, the head of the U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said he had been informed by Israeli authorities that they would no longer allow UNRWA food convoys to northern Gaza, where famine is looming.

On X, COGAT, the Israeli agency that oversees aid to Gaza, said, “We will continue working with agencies and organizations that are not involved in terror to facilitate humanitarian aid to the people who need it.” Israel has officially accused a dozen UNRWA staff members of involvement in the October 7 terror attacks inside Israel. In the media, they have accused scores more. The U.N. fired the staffers and has launched two investigations.

Guterres’ spokesperson told reporters Monday that the secretary-general calls for the decision against UNRWA to be revoked immediately, noting Israel is obligated to facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of aid into and across Gaza.

Military talks in Washington

Meanwhile, there was no halt in the fighting. Israel’s military reported conducting more operations around the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, as well as ground fighting and airstrikes in central Gaza.

This week also brings talks in Washington, with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant expected for meetings at the Pentagon on Tuesday. Other senior Israeli officials were set for separate meetings at the White House, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled their trip after the U.S. did not block the Gaza cease-fire proposal.

“We are very disappointed that they will not be coming to Washington, D.C. to allow us to have a fulsome conversation with them about viable alternatives to going in on the ground in Rafah,” Kirby told reporters at the White House.

The United States has made it clear it will not support an Israeli attack on Rafah, near the Gaza-Egypt border, without a plan to protect civilians there. Israel has said it has a plan but has not publicly said where the Palestinians sheltering there would be relocated.

More than 1.2 million Palestinians have fled there on orders from Israeli forces who told them to leave their homes in northern Gaza as Israeli troops advanced there in the earlier stages of the war.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has contended that “we have no way to defeat Hamas without getting into Rafah and eliminating the battalions that are left there.”

The Israeli leader told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Friday meeting in Israel, “I hope to do that with the support of the United States, but if we need to, we will do it alone.”

The war started with the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and led to the capture of about 250 hostages. More than 100 were released in November during a temporary cease-fire. About 100 are still believed to be alive, another 30 are believed dead but still held in Gaza. The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says more than 32,200 people have been killed during Israel’s counteroffensive. The total includes Hamas fighters and civilians, with the ministry saying two-thirds of the dead are women and children.

VOA News