UN Security Council approves US proposal for 'immediate and total ceasefire' in Gaza

Europe AP - Eskinder Debebe
AP - Eskinder Debebe

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had "reaffirmed his commitment" to a Gaza ceasefire proposal during their meeting in Jerusalem. This after the United Nations Security Council adopted the US-drafted proposal late Monday.

"I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu last night and he reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, adding that Hamas's welcoming of a UN vote on the US-drafted ceasefire resolution was a "hopeful" sign.

"It is a hopeful sign, just as the statement issued after the president (Joe Biden) made his proposal 10 days ago was hopeful," he said.

"But it's not dispositive. What is dispositive – or at least what so far been dispositive in one way or another – is the word coming from Gaza and from the Hamas leadership in Gaza. And that's what counts. And that's what we don't have.

"We await the answer from Hamas," Blinken said.
Israel too has yet to formally announce it has accepted the ceasefire proposal, which was revealed by Biden on 31 May.

Biden has presented what he labelled an Israeli three-phase plan that would end the conflict, free all hostages and lead to the reconstruction of the devastated Palestinian territory without Hamas in power.

Shortly after Biden unveiled the plan, Netanyahu said the roadmap was only "partial".

Clear political plan needed

Late on Monday, Hamas said it "welcomes" the UN Security Council's vote to adopt a resolution backing the ceasefire plan.

But the Palestinian militant group, which is locked in fierce fighting with Israeli military in Gaza, insisted its demands be met, including a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory.

Blinken said that the military approach was not always "sufficient, and there has to be a clear political plan, a clear humanitarian plan to ensure that Hamas does not in any way, shape or form (remain) in control of Gaza and that Israel can move forward toward more enduring security."

Blinken is on tour in the region and will on Tuesday meet Benny Gantz, a centrist and former army chief who quit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government on Sunday, in Tel Aviv, as well as opposition leader Yair Lapid.

The Security Coucil's text – passed with 14 votes in favor and Russia abstaining – "welcomes" the truce and hostage release proposal and urges "parties to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition."

 Russia's UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, countered that the council was singing on to the plan without "details" and "giving a carte blanche."

A vote for peace

"Today we voted for peace," US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after the UN session.

Under the proposal, Israel would withdraw from Gaza population centers and Hamas would free the hostages. The ceasefire would last an initial six weeks, with it extended as negotiators seek a permanent end to hostilities.

The "text is not perfect," said Algeria's UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama. "But it offers a glimmer of hope to the Palestinians, as the alternative is continued killing and suffering."

After the vote, Israeli diplomat Reut Shapir Ben Naftaly emphasised that the "war will end" only when Israeli "goals are met," including the release of hostages and the destruction of Hamas.

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, meanwhile welcomed the council's vote, stating that the "burden" of implementing the resolution and ceasefire "is on the Israeli side."

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas added that he considered "the adoption of this resolution a step in the right direction to end the war of genocide against our people in the Gaza Strip."

Deadly offensive

Since the unprecedented attack by Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on 7 October against Israel, and the subsequent Israeli counterattack, the UN Security Council has struggled to act.

Following two resolutions focused on humanitarian aid, the Security Council finally at the end of March demanded an "immediate ceasefire" for the duration of Ramadan, after the United States abstained from the vote.

The Gaza war was sparked by Hamas's attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to a tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,124 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

(with newswires)

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