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UN resolution avoids ceasefire call

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24 December 2023, The Age/ Reuters, by Michelle Nichols

The United Nations Security Council has approved a toned-down bid to boost humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and called for urgent steps ‘‘to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities’’ after a week of vote delays and intense negotiations to avoid a veto by the United States.

Amid global outrage over a rising Gaza death toll in 11 weeks of war between Israel and Hamas and a worsening humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave, the US abstained to allow the 15-member council to adopt a resolution drafted by the United Arab Emirates.

The remaining council members voted for the resolution except for Russia, which also abstained.

Following high-level negotiations to win over Washington, the resolution no longer dilutes Israel’s control over all aid deliveries to 2.3 million people in Gaza. Israel monitors the limited aid deliveries to Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Egypt and the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing.

But a weakening of language on a cessation of hostilities frustrated several council members – including veto power Russia and Arab and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation states, some of which, diplomats said, view it as approval for Israel to further act against Hamas.

The adopted resolution ‘‘calls for urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access and to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.’’ The initial draft had called for ‘‘an urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities’’ to allow aid access.

‘‘By signing off on this, the council would essentially be giving the Israeli armed forces complete freedom of movement for further clearing of the Gaza Strip,’’ Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council.

Russia proposed the draft revert to the initial text calling for ‘‘an urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities’’.

The amendment was vetoed by the United States. Earlier this month the 193-member UN General Assembly demanded a humanitarian ceasefire, with 153 states voting in favour of the move that was vetoed by the US in the Security Council days earlier.

The US and Israel oppose a ceasefire, arguing it would benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and free hostages taken by Hamas.

Reports out of Gaza earlier on Friday suggested Israel had in fact expanded its ground operations in the lead-up to the UN vote.

Last month the US abstained to allow the Security Council to call for pauses in fighting for a ‘‘sufficient number of days’’ to allow aid access.

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Article source: The Age/ Reuters | Michelle Nichols | 24.12.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000