UN Security Council votes for US-sponsored Gaza ceasefire resolution | United Nations News


The UN Security Council has approved a resolution endorsing a ceasefire plan aimed at ending the eight-month Israeli assault on Gaza.

The vote on the US-sponsored resolution on Monday was 14-0, with Russia abstaining.

The resolution welcomes a ceasefire proposal announced by President Joe Biden that the US says Israel has accepted, although some Israeli officials have promised to continue the war until the elimination of Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs Gaza.

It calls on Hamas, which initially said it viewed the proposal “positively,” to accept the three-phase plan.

It urges Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition”.

Hamas was quick to welcome the resolution. In a statement, Hamas said it is ready to cooperate with mediators and enter indirect negotiations over the implementation of the principles of the agreement.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said the Security Council passed the resolution “overwhelmingly and it is binding in international law”.

The “big question moving forward”, Elizondo said, is whether it be enforced and implemented.

“The US has said very clearly that Israel has agreed to this. So that puts quite a lot of pressure on Israel to abide by this,” he said.

US deputy ambassador Robert Wood told reporters earlier on Monday that the US wanted to make sure all 15 Security Council members were on board to support what he described as “the best, most realistic opportunity to bring at least a temporary halt to this war”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously said that Biden presented only parts of the proposal and insisted that any talk of a permanent ceasefire before dismantling Hamas’ military and governing capabilities is a nonstarter.

Hamas reiterated that any deal must lead to a permanent ceasefire, a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, an end to the Israeli siege of Gaza, reconstruction and “a serious exchange deal” between hostages in Gaza and Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

The Security Council adopted a resolution on March 25 demanding a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which ended April 9, with the US abstaining. But there was no halt to the offensive.

Initial six-month ceasefire?

The current draft resolution underscores “the importance of the ongoing diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States aimed at reaching a comprehensive ceasefire deal, consisting of three phases”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on his eighth trip to the region since October 7.

Biden’s May 31 announcement of the new ceasefire proposal said it would begin with an initial six-month ceasefire with the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza and the return of Palestinian civilians to all areas in the territory.

Phase one also requires the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance “at scale throughout the Gaza Strip,” which Biden said would lead to 600 trucks with aid entering Gaza every day.

In phase two, the draft resolution says that with the agreement of Israel and Hamas, “a permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” will take place.

Phase three would launch “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families”.

The resolution’s final draft would underline that the proposal says if negotiations take longer than six weeks for the first phase, “the ceasefire will still continue as long as negotiations continue”.

It would welcome “the readiness of the United States, Egypt and Qatar to work to ensure negotiations keep going until all the agreements are reached and phase two is able to begin”.

The final draft rejects any attempt to change Gaza’s territory or demography, or reduce its size, but drops wording that specifically mentioned the reduction by officially or unofficially establishing “so-called buffer zones”.

It also would reiterate the Security Council’s “unwavering commitment to achieving the vision of a negotiated two-state solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders”.

And it would stress “the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the [occupied] West Bank under the Palestinian Authority”.

This is something Netanyahu’s right-wing government has not agreed to.

Alon Liel, the former director of Israel’s foreign ministry, said the Israeli government “was taken by surprise”.

“The resolution is giving new content to the Blinken visit here. I think there will be a very hectic morning discussing it tomorrow,” Liel told Al Jazeera.

“Israel is not standing behind its own proposal and definitely not the draft proposal submitted by the Americans,” he said.

“Our ambassador tried in the last 48 hours to change the text and was unable to do it. So Israel definitely doesn’t like this resolution … If Israel will openly reject it, the pressure will grow internationally,” Liel added.

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