US urges UN Security Council to support cease-fire plan in Gaza announced by President Biden

AP , Tuesday 4 Jun 2024

The United States urged the U.N. Security Council on late Monday to support the three-phase plan announced by President Joe Biden aimed at ending the nearly eight-month Israeli war on Gaza, freeing all captives and sending massive aid into the devastated territory.

A ball of fire and black smoke rises moments after an Israeli air strike targeted a residential buil
A ball of fire and black smoke rises moments after an Israeli air strike targeted a residential building in the city of Bureij in the central Gaza Strip on June 3, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. AFP

 

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States circulated a draft resolution to the 14 other council members to back the proposal for ending the conflict.

“Numerous leaders and governments, including in the region, have endorsed this plan and we call on the Security Council to join them in calling for implementation of this deal without delay and without further conditions,” she said.

The brief draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would welcome the May 31 deal announced by Biden and call on Hamas “to accept it fully and implement its terms without delay and without condition.” Hamas has said it views the proposal “positively.”

It makes no mention of Israeli acceptance of the deal.

When Biden made the announcement he called it an Israeli offer that includes an “enduring cease-fire” and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza if Hamas releases all captives it is holding.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his hardline governing partners Monday that the proposal announced by Biden would meet Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, according to local media. The ultranationalists have threatened to bring down his government if Netanyahu agrees to a deal that doesn’t “eliminate” Hamas.

Netanyahu told parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Biden gave an outline of the deal but not all the details, and he said there are “gaps.”

Biden said the first phase of the proposed deal would last for six weeks and include a “full and complete cease-fire,” a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza and the release of some hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

American captives would be released at this stage, and the remains of hostages who had been killed would be returned to their families. There would be a surge in humanitarian assistance, with 600 trucks entering Gaza daily.

In the second phase, all the rest of the living captives would be released, including soldiers, and Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza. Biden said if Hamas lives up to its commitments, the temporary cease-fire would become a “cessation of hostilities permanently.”

About 250 people, mainly Israeli civilians, were abducted on Oct. 7, then more than 100 were freed in a short truce in late November and early December. Israel says about 80 captives are believed to still in Gaza, alongside the remains of about 43 others.

Israeli bombardments and ground offensives in Gaza, which Hamas has ruled, have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, most of them women and children.

The third phase of the plan announced by Biden calls for the start of a major reconstruction of Gaza, which faces decades of rebuilding from devastation caused by the Israeli war.

The draft resolution stresses the importance of Israel and Hamas adhering to the deal once it is agreed to, “with the aim of bringing about a permanent cessation of hostilities, and calls upon all member states and the United Nations to support its implementation.”

The draft would also reiterate the council’s “unwavering commitment” to a two-state solution, and stress the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.

Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador, said Security Council members “have consistently called for the steps outlined in this deal: bringing the hostages home, ensuring a complete ceasefire, enabling a surge of humanitarian assistance into Gaza and in the refurbishment of essential services, and setting the stage for a long-term reconstruction plan for Gaza.”

“Council members should not let this opportunity pass by,” she said. “We must speak with one voice in support of this deal."

On Monday, the foreign ministers of five key Arab nations — Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt — urged Israel and Hamas to consider Biden’s proposal “seriously and positively.”

The group of seven major industrialised nations — the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy — also backed the cease-fire plan.

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