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UN Security Council backs US Israel-Gaza ceasefire plan

Image source, Getty Images

  • Author, Ana Faguy
  • Role, BBC News, Washington

The United Nations Security Council voted in favor of the US-proposed ceasefire plan between Israel and Gaza.

The proposal sets the conditions for a “total and complete ceasefire”, the release of hostages held by Hamas, the return of the remains of dead hostages and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.

Fourteen of the fifteen members of the Security Council voted in favor of the American draft resolution. Russia abstained.

The resolution states that Israel has accepted the ceasefire proposal and urges Hamas to accept it as well.

This means the Security Council is joining a number of governments, as well as the G7 group of the world’s richest countries, in supporting the three-part plan unveiled by President Joe Biden on May 31.

The vote is likely to increase pressure on both sides to respond positively to the plan to end the conflict. It also came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with foreign leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an effort to drum up support for the peace deal.

Just hours before the UN vote, Blinken said his message to regional leaders was: “If you want a ceasefire, pressure Hamas to say yes “.

The group has previously said it supports parts of the plan and released a statement on Monday “welcoming” the Security Council resolution. Hamas will likely demand guarantees that the plan would lead to a permanent ceasefire and Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Its political leaders in Doha have not yet formally responded to this proposal, according to American and Israeli officials.

The proposal would culminate in a sweeping plan to rebuild Gaza, which has been largely destroyed by the conflict.

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

The second phase includes a “final end to hostilities”, as well as a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, according to a text of the American draft resolution.

The third phase focuses on the enclave’s long-term prospects and would launch a multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza.

Monday’s resolution comes 10 days after President Biden said the Israelis had accepted the plan. But Mr. Netanyahu has not yet approved the American proposal.

While Mr. Biden has presented the peace initiative as an Israeli initiative, the United States is also aware that Israel’s own ruling coalition is approaching the plan with reluctance. This extends to outright opposition from some far-right ministers who threaten to bring about the collapse of the government if the deal moves forward.

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

President Biden’s account on X, formerly Twitter, noted the resolution’s passage. “Hamas says it wants a ceasefire,” the message 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.”

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

“We call on the parties to seize this opportunity and move towards a lasting peace that guarantees security and stability for the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Ms. Woodward said.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron also welcomed the resolution.

Although the United States had previously vetoed similar measures, it did not veto the March resolution. Mr. Netanyahu then declared that the United States had “abandoned” its previous position linking a ceasefire to the release of the hostages.

The conflict began when Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing around 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.

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