The UN Security Council agrees on a common position on the war in the Gaza Strip. He calls for ceasefires and opposes “forced relocation of the civilian population.”
The UN Security Council has adopted a Gaza resolution calling for a day-long ceasefire. After a long struggle, the most powerful UN body in New York agreed on the joint resolution.
The USA waived a veto and abstained, as did Russia and Great Britain. 12 of the 15 council members voted for the text. Israel immediately rejected the demand for longer ceasefires in view of the hostages kidnapped in the Gaza Strip.
Resolutions of the Security Council are binding under international law and can thus develop international influence. Legally, all UN member states are required to follow the decisions of the most powerful UN body. Otherwise, the Council can impose sanctions or, theoretically, even intervene militarily. In the case of the Middle East conflict, however, this is not realistic because of the veto right, especially of the USA.
Israel is not mentioned by name throughout the document
The resolution introduced by Council member Malta calls, among other things, for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days” to ensure humanitarian assistance in accordance with international law. But there is no talk of a formal ceasefire. The text focuses strongly on the suffering of Palestinian minors. It expresses “deep concern about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and its serious impact on the civilian population, in particular the disproportionate impact on children.”
All parties to the conflict are required to comply with international law, a “forced relocation of the civilian population” is rejected, and vital services must not be withheld from the people in the Gaza Strip. According to diplomats, these positions should be understood with regard to Israel’s actions in the region – although the country is not mentioned by name throughout the document. The text only mentions the Islamist Hamas in its demand for the release of the Israeli hostages kidnapped in the Gaza Strip.
Reaction from Israel’s Foreign Ministry
In response to the resolution, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it rejected any longer humanitarian ceasefires as long as 239 hostages were held by the Islamist Hamas. “Israel calls on the UN Security Council and the international community to resolutely demand the release of all Israeli hostages, as set out in the resolution,” the statement said. “Israel expects the UN Security Council to unequivocally condemn Hamas and comment on the need to create a new security situation in the Gaza Strip.”
Until shortly before the vote, it was questionable whether the USA, as Israel’s closest ally, could tolerate the adoption of the resolution. In October, Washington vetoed a draft because, among other things, it did not emphasize Israel’s right to self-defense. The resolution that has now been adopted does not address this either, and there is also no condemnation of the Hamas massacre on October 7th with around 1,200 deaths. The USA, like China, Russia, France and Great Britain, has veto rights. The Council also has ten member states elected for two-year terms. A resolution needs at least 9 of the 15 votes, and there can be no veto.
After the vote, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield criticized that “some members of the Council” were still not ready to condemn the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th. However, she also reminded her ally Israel that all warring parties must comply with international law: “Hamas’ actions do not diminish Israel’s responsibility to protect innocent people in Gaza.” Britain stressed that it could not vote for the proposal because of the lack of condemnation of terrorism.
role of the USA
U.N. expert Richard Gowan of the Crisis Group think tank said U.S. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield appeared to have made it clear to Washington “that after weeks of blocking progress, the U.S. must allow some sort of action in the Council.” The United States was careful to avoid calling for a formal ceasefire in the text.
“So ultimately the US achieved its main goal of focusing the council on humanitarian action rather than calling for a complete end to the war,” Gowan said. At Wednesday’s meeting, Russia failed to integrate the demand for a final cessation of hostilities and a ceasefire into the draft.
The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, which is very active in the conflict, spoke of a long-overdue first step in view of the agreement on the resolution: “However, the UAE remains committed to working towards a lasting humanitarian ceasefire. We must not lose sight of this urgent goal.” said Lana Zaki Nusseibih.
The director of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch, Louis Charbonneau, wrote on The US finally stopped paralyzing the Security Council on the issue of Israel and Palestine so that this resolution on the plight of children in Gaza could move forward.
There was immense pressure on the UN Security Council to reach a common position after weeks of negotiations. Until Wednesday, drafts had failed due to, among other things, the vetoes of the USA on the one hand and Russia and China on the other. The UN General Assembly with its 193 members passed a resolution that was significantly more critical of Israel at the end of October with a large majority. Germany abstained at the time. This decision was not binding under international law.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.