UN Security Council says Yes to ceasefire; US abstains

UN Security Council says Yes to ceasefire; US abstains

At long last, the UN Security Council agrees on a ceasefire demand. All that remains is for Israel to comply.

by Kathryn Shihadah

The United Nations Security Council successfully passed its first resolution (text below) calling for a Gaza cease-fire Monday morning after four failed attempts.

The United States defied Netanyahu’s demand that the US veto it and instead abstained, allowing it to pass.

Ha’aretz reports:

The resolution in question “demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a sustainable lasting ceasefire, and also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” having the two matters run in parallel but not conditional upon [each] other.

The resolution, which was backed by 14 nations including China and Russia, demands an immediate ceasefire during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the “unconditional release of all hostages.” Ramadan ends about April 9.

Two aspects of the resolution have potentially interesting impacts not widely discussed. One is this statement:

The Security Council demands…the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages…

Since the resolution states all hostages and does not specify Israeli hostages, it can also therefore be applied – and possibly is meant to apply – to the 9,000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons – especially the over 300 who have never been charged with a crime, the 200 minors, and the 70 women (not including an unknown number abducted from Gaza since October 7th).

Also included in the resolution are the words:

…and further demands that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain

This aIso has significant Implications for Palestinians, given that Israeli prisons are notorious for their inhumane conditions, including widespread starvation, abuse (including rape), and torture of Palestinian adults and children. The resolution clearly calls on Israel to submit to international law regarding the prisoners it retains.

Netanyahu’s reaction

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the US abstention by cancelling a planned US visit by Israeli representatives to discuss Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah, in southern Gaza – an invasion that the Biden administration opposes.

More than one million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah. Many world leaders have voiced opposition to the planned attack, but Netanyahu has remained firm. Last week, he vowed to defy US appeals and go into Rafah even without American support.

Despite the cancellation, Israeli defense minister, Yoav Gallant’s trip to the US has not been interrupted. Gallant met Monday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Some other reactions

Algeria’s representative welcomes the resolution’s passing, saying the Security Council is “finally shouldering its responsibility as the primary organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security.”

“I would like to thank all the council members for their flexibility and the constructive way that allowed us today to adopt this long-awaited resolution. [A] resolution that calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip in order to put an end to the massacres that unfortunately are still ongoing over the five months,” Amar Bendjama said, adding, “This bloodbath has continued for far too long”.

Four previous cease-fire resolutions had failed, including one proposed by the US on Friday.

Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, says Israel “needs to immediately respond” to the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution “by facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, ending its starvation of Gaza’s population, and halting unlawful attacks”

Charbonneau added in a statement: “Palestinian armed groups should immediately release all civilians held hostage. The US and other countries should use their leverage to end atrocities by suspending arms transfers to Israel.”

Below is the resolution

RELATED: A history of the US blocking UN resolutions against Israel

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