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UN Security Council to try again for 'immediate ceasefire' vote

By AFP

March 25, 2024 06:03 PM


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The UN Security Council on Monday was again set to attempt adopting a text calling for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza, as the veto-wielding United States shows signs of tempering its rigid Israel backing.

A change in tone toward its Middle Eastern ally was seen Friday, when the United States put forward a resolution to recognize "the imperative" of an "immediate and sustained ceasefire."

That text was nevertheless blocked by Russia and China, which along with Arab states criticized it for stopping short of explicitly demanding Israel halt its campaign in Gaza.

A new text, according to the version seen by AFP on Sunday evening, "demands an immediate ceasefire" for the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan, "leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire."

It also "demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages" as well as "the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale."

The resolution has been the work of the Council's non-permanent members, who negotiated with the United States over the weekend to avoid another veto, according to diplomatic sources who expressed a certain optimism at its passage.

"We expect, barring a last-minute twist, that the resolution will be adopted and that the United States will not vote against it," one diplomat told AFP.

The United States has repeatedly blocked ceasefire resolutions as it attempts to walk a line between supporting Israel with military aid and voicing frustration with leader Benjamin Netanyahu as the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip mounts.

Unlike Friday's text, the call for a ceasefire in the new resolution is not linked to ongoing talks, led by Qatar with support from the United States and Egypt, to halt fighting in return for Hamas releasing hostages.

Referencing a previous version of Monday's text, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday that a resolution without strong enough support for the diplomatic talks could "actually give Hamas an excuse to walk away from the deal on the table."

The new text also deplores "all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as all violence and hostilities against civilians, and all acts of terrorism."

Israel has criticized the Security Council for previous resolutions that have not specifically condemned Hamas.

The October 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group on Israel resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.

The militants also seized 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes around 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 presumed dead.

Israel's military campaign in response to eliminate Hamas has killed at least 32,226 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

The Security Council has been divided over the Israel-Hamas war since the October 7 attacks, only approving two of eight resolutions, which both mainly dealt with humanitarian aid.

And those resolutions seem to have had little effect on the ground, where UN personnel say Israel continues to block aid convoys as experts warn of looming famine.


AFP


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