US calls for UNSC vote on backing Gaza ceasefire plan


Diplomatic sources said the vote is planned for Monday, but has not yet been confirmed by South Korea…reports Asian Lite News

The United States announced Sunday it has requested a UN Security Council vote on its draft resolution backing a plan for an “immediate ceasefire with the release of hostages” between Israel and Hamas.

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 toward 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 hostage release deal, separate from the United Nations.

Under the proposal, Israel would withdraw from Gaza population centers and Hamas would free hostages. 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 militant 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.

(240514) — GAZA, May 14, 2024 (Xinhua) — Smoke rises following Israeli strikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on May 14, 2024. Israeli tanks on Tuesday marched towards the center of Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip, as tens of thousands of residents fled to evade an Israeli ground offensive, a local source reported. (Photo by Khaled Omar/Xinhua)

This includes a first phase with an “immediate, full, and complete ceasefire,” release of hostages taken by Hamas, and “exchange of Palestinian prisoners” 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.”

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 the unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7 against Israel and Israel’s subsequent counterattack, the Security Council has struggled to speak with one voice.

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.

The United States, however, said such a text was not helpful, stating that it instead favored negotiations on the ground to achieve a ceasefire.

The Gaza war was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,084 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

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