2 people were killed in an Israeli attack on a village in southern Lebanon

The Security Council has made a breakthrough and demanded an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza

It was described by diplomats as a “change” in President Joe Biden's administration's stance on the Gaza war and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a high-level delegation visit to Washington. The Security Council finally agreed (on Monday) to an “immediate cessation” of fire in Gaza for the remainder of the month of Ramadan, just two weeks, marking a breakthrough. The war began about six months ago, with the United States rejecting this express language unless it was fought with several conditions, notably a clear condemnation of the October 7 attack by Hamas against Israel.

Security Council members approved by a 14-vote majority, with the United States abstaining, in resolution 2728, drafted by ten non-permanent member states: Algeria, Ecuador, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Guyana, South Korea, Malta, Mozambique and Japan. Applause broke out in the Security Council chamber immediately after the decision was announced, a rare occurrence when voting on resolutions.

As a result, Netanyahu announced that he was canceling a senior Israeli delegation's visit to Washington in protest at the US not using its “veto” to prevent the Biden administration from demanding an “immediate ceasefire”. ” from what he considered a “policy position” by allowing… by issuing the decision without requiring the release of Hamas prisoners.

The US expressed its “disappointment” at Netanyahu's decision to cancel the Israeli delegation's visit.

Palestinians wait to receive a free meal of hibiscus in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip, March 22 (Reuters)

A stressful environment

The move came in light of the tense negotiation atmosphere till the last hour. American negotiators repeatedly requested amendments to the proposed text, and ten countries responded to some of them. In the last minutes before the vote, the Americans threatened to use their veto power if a paragraph condemning the October 7 attack by Hamas against Israeli settlements and kibbutzim around Gaza was not introduced.

The US request was met with immediate objection from ten countries except Russia and China, which threatened to use a “veto” if the amendment was introduced. Thus, the US quietly backed down from this demand.

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At the start of the session, all Security Council members observed a minute of silence for those killed in an attack by ISIS militants near Moscow. Then Mozambique's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Pedro Comisario Afonso, spoke on behalf of the ten countries, calling on all countries to support the demand for an immediate ceasefire.

He was followed by Russian representative Vassily Nebenzia, who opposed US efforts to introduce amendments to the text of the resolution. He expressed “sadness and disappointment” at “the manner in which the work on the draft resolution has been carried out in the last 24 hours”. Noting an amendment requested by American negotiators, he replaced the word “permanent” in the cease-fire with “weaker words . . .”

“It's unacceptable,” he said, criticizing it as “leaving too much room for interpretation.” It would allow Israel to resume its military operations in the Gaza Strip at any time after the end of the ceasefire. He asked the councilors to go back to what they said in the first statement.

Regarding this Russian request, Representative Yamazaki Kasuyuki, the President of the Security Council for the current month, called for a vote on Nebenzia's proposal, which received the support of three countries, while the United States opposed it, and 11 other countries abstained from voting. .

After Ramadan

Resolution 2728 consists of three operative paragraphs. The Security Council says it “demands an immediate ceasefire during the month of Ramadan, respected by all parties, leading to a permanent and sustainable ceasefire”. It “demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring access to humanitarian assistance to meet their medical and other humanitarian needs.” It also demands that “parties comply with their obligations under international law to all persons in their custody”.

As for the second paragraph, the Council “stresses the urgent need to expand humanitarian assistance to civilians and improve their security throughout the Gaza Strip,” reiterating its demand for the removal of all obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Largely, in accordance with international humanitarian law, as well as resolutions 2712 and 2720 adopted on November 15, 2023 and December 22, 2023.

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Attacks on civilians

Although the last paragraph simply states that the Council is considering the issue, the preamble to the resolution refers to all previous Security Council resolutions related to the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian issue. Instead of using the phrase “condemn,” the Council expresses its “condemnation of all attacks against civilians and civilian targets, as well as all acts of violence and aggression against civilians, and all acts of terrorism.” Prohibited under international law.

After the vote, Algerian representative Ammar Ben Jama called on Council members to act immediately to implement resolution 2728.

His US representative called on council members to pressure Hamas to “accept the deal on the table” and said a ceasefire could begin “immediately” after the release of the first hostage. The Russian representative criticized the post-Ramadan ceasefire for accommodating different interpretations.

Previous texts

This comes after Russia and China used their veto powers last Friday against a draft resolution prepared by the US. It refused to insert an explicit “call” or “demand” for an end to the war in Gaza, favoring a text that called for an “immediate and sustainable end” to the war, humanitarian aid to the Palestinians and the release of Israeli hostages held by “Hamas”. This is the ninth time the council has failed to call for an immediate ceasefire.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield abstained during a vote on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during a Security Council meeting on Monday (AFP).

Ahead of his approval of the revised text of the resolution, the US representative warned that the resolution would harm negotiations sponsored by the United States, Egypt and Qatar. It again raised fears of the US using its veto power. He said the initial text “failed to support important diplomacy in the region”. Worse yet, it could give Hamas an excuse to withdraw from any deal on the table.”

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“This prompted the ten countries to insert text in the preamble recognizing ongoing diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States aimed at a ceasefire, the release of hostages, and the scaling up of arrangements and distribution of humanitarian aid,” “in light of deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.” Gaza”.

The decision received prior support from the Arab bloc, which includes Russia, China, France, Britain and 22 countries in the United Nations. Before the vote, the committee issued a statement calling on all council members to “act with unity and urgency” to “stop the bloodshed, protect people's lives, and avoid further human suffering and destruction.”

Status of Palestine

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, called the resolution a “turning point” in the Security Council's position. He seemed much affected; He expressed his support for the text of the resolution, which he hoped would end “decades of killings against the Palestinian nation,” calling for an “immediate ceasefire, the first accepted since the beginning of this occupation against our people in Gaza.” Dismissing warnings that the decision would affect the progress of ongoing negotiations, he said, “If it affects, it will affect positively, not negatively.” Because the ceasefire is in place to save the lives of innocent Palestinians and civilians in Gaza, especially during the month of Ramadan, negotiations continue in Doha and negotiators in Cairo and elsewhere continue to implement what they discuss. He added, “This is not a serious argument. The ceasefire saves innocent people, provides them with humanitarian aid, and the negotiations continue.”

On the other hand, Israeli representative Gilad Erdan described the resolution as a “humiliation” for the Security Council.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference with Jordan's foreign minister in Amman on Monday (AP).

Immediately after the resolution was released, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “The Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza” and the release of prisoners must be implemented “because failure is unforgivable.”

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