loader

UN Security Council Backs US Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Plan

The United Nations Security Council has voted to support a US resolution backing a ceasefire plan for the war in Gaza.

The proposal sets out conditions for a "full and complete ceasefire", the release of hostages held by Hamas, the return of dead hostages' remains and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.

Fourteen of the 15 Security Council members voted in favour of the US-drafted resolution. Russia abstained.

The resolution states that Israel has accepted the ceasefire proposal, and urges Hamas to agree to it too.

It means the Security Council joins a number of governments, as well as the G7 group of the world's richest nations, in backing the three-part plan that was unveiled by President Joe Biden in a televised statement on 31 May. Mr Biden described it then as an Israeli ceasefire proposal.

The proposal submitted by Israel to the US and fellow mediators Qatar and Egypt – reportedly lengthier than the summary presented by Mr Biden - has not been made public and it is unclear whether it varies from what the president presented. The proposal was agreed to by Israel’s three-man war cabinet and has not been divulged to the wider government. Some far-right ministers have already made clear they oppose it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not said directly whether he supports the plan as laid out by President Biden.

The resolution was approved shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with foreign leaders, including Mr Netanyahu, in an attempt to build support for the ceasefire deal.

Just hours before the UN vote, Mr Blinken said his message to leaders in the region was: "If you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say yes."
 

Gaza ceasefire plan turns into deadly game of survival
 
The group has previously said it supports parts of the plan, and it released a statement on Monday “welcoming” the Security Council resolution.

Hamas emphasised its demand for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as well as the exchange of prisoners. The group said it is ready to cooperate with mediators and enter "indirect negotiations".

Its political leadership in Doha has yet to formally respond to the proposal, according to US and Israeli officials.

The proposal would end with a major reconstruction plan for Gaza, which has been largely destroyed in the conflict.

The first phase concerns a hostage-prisoner swap as well as a short-term ceasefire.

The second phase includes a "permanent end to hostilities", as well as a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, according to a text of the US draft resolution.

The third phase focuses on the enclave's long-term outlook, and it would start a multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza.

Monday's resolution comes 10 days after President Biden said the Israelis had agreed to the plan. But Mr Netanyahu has not yet endorsed the US proposal.

While Mr Biden presented the peace initiative as an Israeli one, the US is also aware Israel’s own fractious ruling coalition is approaching the plan with reluctance. This extends to outright opposition by some far-right ministers who are threatening to trigger a collapse of the government if the deal progresses.

The resignation of former general Benny Gantz from the war cabinet on Sunday has deepened that sense of instability.

President Biden's account on X, formerly Twitter, noted the passage of the resolution. "Hamas says it wants a ceasefire," the post said. "This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it."

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN, said: "Today we voted for peace".

UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward described the situation in Gaza as "catastrophic", adding that the "suffering has gone on for far too long".

"We call upon the parties to seize this opportunity and move towards lasting peace which guarantees security and stability for both the Israeli and Palestinian people," Ms Woodward said.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron also welcomed the resolution.

Explaining its abstention, Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia raised concerns over the clarity of the deal and whether Israel had truly accepted the plan to end its military operation in Gaza, as the resolution states.

"Given the many statements from Israel on the extension of the war until Hamas is completely defeated ... what specifically has Israel agreed to?" Mr Nebenzia asked.

Despite voting in favour, China also expressed concerns over the text. It's UN ambassador questioned whether this time would be any different to the three previous Security Council resolutions on the conflict, which were not implemented despite being legally binding.

On 25 March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire.

While the US had previously vetoed similar measures, it did not veto the March resolution. Mr Netanyahu said at the time that the US had "abandoned" its prior position linking a ceasefire to the release of hostages.

The conflict began when Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking some 251 people hostage.

The Hamas-run health ministry says the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 37,000 since Israel responded to its attack.