UN to vote on resolution demanding a cease-fire in Gaza during current Muslim holy month of Ramadan

UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council will vote on Monday on a resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The vote comes after Russia and China on Friday vetoed a US-backed resolution that would have supported “an immediate and lasting ceasefire” in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The United States warned that the resolution to be voted on Monday morning could damage negotiations on a cessation of hostilities by the US, Egypt and Qatar, raising the possibility of a new veto, this time by the Americans.

The resolution, tabled by the 10 elected council members, is backed by Russia and China and the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations.

A statement from the Arab Group on Friday evening called on all 15 council members “to act with unity and urgency” and vote in favor of the resolution “to halt the bloodshed, preserve human life and prevent further human suffering and destruction.” to avert.”

“It is long past time for a ceasefire,” the Arab Group said.

Ramadan began on March 10 and ends on April 9, meaning that if the resolution is approved, the ceasefire demand would last only two weeks, although the draft says the pause in fighting should lead to ‘ to a permanent sustainable ceasefire’.

The vote was originally scheduled for Saturday morning, but sponsors late Friday asked for a postponement until Monday morning.

Many Security Council members hope that the UN’s most powerful body, charged with maintaining international peace and security, will demand an end to the war that began when Gaza’s Hamas rulers launched a surprise attack on October 7 southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people. people and taking approximately 250 others hostage.

Since then, the Security Council has adopted two resolutions on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, but none called for a ceasefire.

More than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the fighting, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. She makes no distinction between civilians and combatants in the count, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Gaza is also facing a serious humanitarian emergency, with a report from an international authority on hunger warning on March 18 that there is “a threat of famine” in northern Gaza and that escalation of the war could kill half of the 2 could bring .3 million people in the area to the brink of starvation.

The short resolution, which will be put to a vote on Monday, “demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for the month of Ramadan.” It also demands “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages” and emphasizes the urgent need to protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance throughout the month. Gaza Strip.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council Friday that the text of the resolution “fails to support sensitive diplomacy in the region. Worse, it could even give Hamas an excuse to walk away from the deal on the table.”

“We should not move forward with a resolution that jeopardizes the ongoing negotiations,” she said, warning that if diplomacy is not supported, “we could find this council deadlocked again.”

“I really hope that doesn’t happen,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

The United States has vetoed three resolutions demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, the most recent an Arab-backed measure on February 20. That resolution was supported by thirteen councilors with one abstention, reflecting overwhelming support for a ceasefire.

Russia and China vetoed a US-backed resolution in late October calling for a pause in fighting to deliver aid, protect civilians and halt the arming of Hamas. They said this did not reflect global calls for a ceasefire.

They vetoed the US resolution again on Friday, calling it ambiguous and saying it was not the direct demand for an end to fighting that much of the world is seeking.

The vote became another showdown between world powers locked in tense disputes elsewhere, with the United States criticized for not being tough enough on its ally Israel even as tensions rise between the two countries.

A major problem was the unusual language in the American design. It said the Security Council “determines the need for an immediate and lasting ceasefire.” The wording was not a simple ‘demand’ or ‘call’ for a cessation of hostilities.

Before the vote, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow supports an immediate ceasefire but criticized the watered-down language, which he called philosophical language that does not belong in a U.N. resolution.

He accused US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of “deliberately misleading the international community” by calling for a ceasefire.

“This was a kind of empty rhetorical exercise,” Nebenzia said. “The American product is extremely politicized, with the sole purpose of deceiving voters, encouraging them in the form of some mention of a ceasefire in Gaza… and promoting impunity of Israel, whose crimes are not even assessed in the draft.”

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said the US proposal sets conditions and falls far short of the expectations of council members and the broader international community.

“If the US was serious about a ceasefire, it would not have vetoed multiple council resolutions over and over again,” he said. “It wouldn’t have taken such a detour and played word games while being ambiguous and evasive on critical issues.”

Friday’s vote in the 15-member council was 11 members in favor and three against, including Algeria, the Arab representative on the council. There was one abstention, from Guyana.

After the vote, Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia and China of vetoing the resolution for “very cynical reasons.” first time.

A second “minor” reason, she said, is that “Russia and China simply did not want to vote for a resolution drafted by the United States because they would rather see us fail than see this council succeed.” She accused Russia of once again putting “politics before progress” and having “the audacity and hypocrisy to throw stones” after launching an unjustified invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The resolution reflected a shift from the United States, which has found itself at odds with much of the world, with even Israel’s allies pushing for an unconditional end to the fighting.

In previous resolutions, the US has closely linked the call for a ceasefire with the demand for the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza. This resolution, which used formulations open to interpretation, continued to link the two issues, but not as firmly.