U.S. pushes for U.N to support temporary Gaza ceasefire, oppose Rafah assault.


A general view of the UN Security Council meeting (UNSC) on the situation in the Middle East on Nov.29, 2023 in New York, United States. The U.S. has proposed a rival draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and opposing a major ground offensive by its ally Israel in Rafah, according to the text seen by Reuters.

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The United States has proposed a rival draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and opposing a major ground offensive by its ally Israel in Rafah, according to the text seen by Reuters.

The move comes after the U.S. signaled it would veto on Tuesday an Algerian-drafted resolution — demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire — over concerns it could jeopardize talks between the U.S., Egypt, Israel and Qatar that seek to broker a pause in the war and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Until now, Washington has been averse to the word ceasefire in any U.N. action on the Israel-Hamas war, but the U.S. text echoes language that President Joe Biden said he used last week in conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It would see the Security Council “underscore its support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released, and calls for lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale.”

The United States does “not plan to rush” to a vote and intends to allow time for negotiations, a senior U.S. administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday.

To pass, a resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the U.S., France, Britain, Russia or China.

The focus now is to secure a cease-fire in Gaza, GCC secretary general says

The U.S. draft text “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries.”

Israel plans to storm Rafah, where more than 1 million of the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza have sought shelter, prompting international concern that an assault would sharply worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The U.N. has warned it “could lead to a slaughter.”

The draft U.S. resolution says such a move “would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

Washington traditionally shields Israel from U.N. action and has twice vetoed council resolutions since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants. But it has also abstained twice, allowing the council to adopt resolutions that aimed to boost aid to Gaza and called for extended pauses in fighting.

A convoy of lorries carrying humanitarian aid enters the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on Oct. 21, 2023. The United Nations says Gaza needs about 100 aid trucks a day to meet the needs of its 2.4 million people, nearly half of whom have been displaced by Israel’s bombardment in response to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

Eyad Baba | AFP | Getty Images

This is the second time since Oct. 7 that Washington has proposed a Security Council resolution on Gaza. Russia and China vetoed its first attempt in late October.

While the U.S. was ready to protect Israel by vetoing the Algerian draft resolution on Tuesday, International Crisis Group U.N. Director Richard Gowan said Israel would be more concerned by the text Washington drafted.

“The simple fact that the U.S. is tabling this text at all is a warning shot for Netanyahu,” he said. “It is the strongest signal the U.S. has sent at the U.N. so far that Israel cannot rely on American diplomatic protection indefinitely.”

Israel’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the U.S. draft.

A second senior U.S. administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. draft does not suggest “anything about the dynamics of any particular relationship, whether that’s with the Israelis or any other partner we have.”

The draft U.S. text would condemn calls by some Israeli government ministers for Jewish settlers to move to Gaza and would reject any attempt at demographic or territorial change in Gaza that would violate international law.

The resolution would also reject “any actions by any party that reduce the territory of Gaza, on a temporary or permanent basis, including through the establishment officially or unofficially of so-called buffer zones, as well as the widespread, systematic demolition of civilian infrastructure.”

Reuters reported in December that Israel told several Arab states that it wants to carve out a buffer zone inside Gaza’s borders to prevent attacks after the war ends.

The war began when fighters from the Hamas militant group that runs Gaza attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. In retaliation, Israel launched a military assault on Gaza that health authorities say has killed nearly 29,000 Palestinians with thousands more bodies feared lost amid the ruins.

In December, more than three-quarters of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly voted to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. General Assembly resolutions are not binding but carry political weight, reflecting a global view on the war.



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