US calls on Security Council to vote on backing Gaza ceasefire plan

AFP , Monday 10 Jun 2024

The United States announced Sunday it has requested a UN Security Council vote on its draft resolution backing a plan for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip with the release of captives.

Security Council
File photo: UN Security Council

 

Diplomatic sources said the vote is planned for Monday, but has not yet been confirmed by South Korea, which holds the Security Council presidency for the month of June.

"Today, the United States called for the Security Council to move towards a vote... supporting the proposal on the table," said Nate Evans, spokesman for the US delegation, without specifying a vote date.

"Council members should not let this opportunity pass by and must speak with one voice in support of this deal," Evans said.

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

US President Joe Biden on May 31 launched a new push for a ceasefire and captive release deal, separate from the United Nations.

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

The United States is placing primary responsibility for accepting the proposal on Hamas, specifically calling on the Palestinian resistance group to accept the document in the latest version of the draft text.

That version, which was distributed to member states on Sunday and was seen by AFP, "welcomes" the new ceasefire proposal while stating, unlike in previous versions, that Israel has already accepted.

The draft resolution "calls upon Hamas to also accept it, and urges both parties to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition."

In response to requests from several member states, the latest text clearly lays out the proposal.

This includes a first phase with an "immediate, full, and complete ceasefire," release of captives held in Gaza, and "exchange of Palestinian prisoners" in Israeli prisons plus "withdrawal of Israeli forces from the populated areas in Gaza."

This also includes the "safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance at scale throughout the Gaza Strip to all Palestinian civilians who need it."

 
Member state disagreements
 

According to diplomatic sources, several Security Council members indicated their reservations on two previous versions of the text, in particular Algeria which is the Arab representative on the UN Security Council, and Russia which wields a veto.

Since Israel's war on Gaza began, the Security Council's overwhelming majority has voted in favour of several draft resolutions calling for an "immediate ceasefire" in the war-battered territory, with the US repeatedly using its veto power to sabotage the proposals.

Following two resolutions mainly focused on humanitarian aid, the Security Council finally at the end of March successfully demanded an "immediate ceasefire" for the duration of Ramadan, which was achieved with the United States abstaining from the vote.

Following the International Court of Justice's decision at the end of May ordering Israel to stop its offensive in Rafah, Algeria circulated a draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and, more specifically, a halt to the Rafah offensive.

Israel's relentless bombardment and ground invasion have killed at least 37,084 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded 83,530 others, mostly women and children.

 

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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