Gaza Conflict: UN Security Council Passes First Resolution For Ceasefire

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UN Ambassadors discuss befeore a vote on a resolution on Israel and Gaza conflict at UN Headquarters Monday, March 25, 2024.

The UN Security Council on Monday, March 25, demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for the month of Ramadan through a resolution passed in that regard.

It also demanded the release of all hostages taken captive during Hamas’ October 7 attack in southern Israel. 

The vote came after six months of deadlock at the council’s which has primary responsibility for maintening international peace.

Said Japanese ambassador Kazuyuki Yamazaki who held the presidency of the meeting: “The result of the voting is as follows; 14 votes in favour, zero vote against, one abstention. The draft resolution has been adopted as the resolution 27/28/2024”.

The resolution was put forward by the 10 elected members of the Security Council.

The US previously vetoed three resolutions calling for a ceasefire. Its officials argued that the cease-fire and hostage releases should be tied.

Like other council members it contributed to the draft but expressed reservations.

Said Linda Thomas-Greenfield: “We appreciated the willingness of members of this council to take some of our edits and improve on this resolution.

“Still, certain key edits were ignored, including our request to add a condemnation of Hamas, and we did not agree with everything in the resolution. For that reason, we were unfortunately not able to vote yes”.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield urged the council and U.N. members across the world to “speak out and demand unequivocally that Hamas accepts the deal on the table”.

Because Ramadan is set to end by April 10, the cease-fire demand would last for just two weeks, though the draft says the pause in fighting should lead to “a lasting sustainable cease-fire”.

Shortly before Monday’s vote, the elected members changed the final draft resolution to drop the word “permanent” from its demand that a Ramadan cease-fire should lead to a “sustainable” halt in fighting apparently at the request of the United States.

Russia complained that dropping the word could allow Israel “to resume its military operation in the Gaza Strip at any moment” after Ramadan and proposed an amendment to restore it. That amendment was defeated because it failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes — with three council members voting in favour, the United States voting against, and 11 countries abstaining.

Under the United Nations Charter, Security Council resolutions are legally binding on its 193 member nations, though they are often flouted.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told the council that the vote “must be a turning point” that leads to saving lives in Gaza and ending the “assault of atrocities against our people”.

He regretted that it had taken six months, with more than 100,000 Palestinians killed and maimed, to finally demand an immediate ceasefire.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s operation in Gaza.

Hamas, the Palestinian militant group whose military wing conducted the deadly October 7 attacks in southern Israel, welcomed the U.N.’s move but said the cease-fire needed to be permanent.

Said the group: “We confirm our readiness to engage in an immediate prisoner exchange process that leads to the release of prisoners on both sides”.

Shortly after the resolution passed, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled the visit of an Israeli delegation to Washington, DC, which the US had requested to discuss concerns over a proposed Israeli invasion of Rafah, a city in crowded southern Gaza.

The U.S. decision to abstain came at a time of growing tensions between President Joe Biden’s administration and Netanyahu over Israel’s prosecution of the war, the high number of civilian deaths and the limited amounts of humanitarian assistance allowed into Gaza. The two countries have also clashed over Netanyahu’s rejection of a Palestinian state, Jewish settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the illegal expansion of settlements there.

Tweeted U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: “This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable”.

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