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After three vetos against Gaza ceasefire, US writes own revised UN resolution

Washington is calling for a halt to fighting only after the conclusion of diplomatic efforts, stressing both the release of Israeli hostages and humanitarian aid for Palestinians.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, vetoes a draft resolution calling for a ceasefire to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, put forth by Algeria, at U.N. Security Council on Feb. 20, 2024. Credit: Manuel Elías/U.N. Photo.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, vetoes a draft resolution calling for a ceasefire to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, put forth by Algeria, at U.N. Security Council on Feb. 20, 2024. Credit: Manuel Elías/U.N. Photo.

After using its veto power three times to block U.N. Security Council resolutions pushing for an immediate ceasefire to the war in Gaza—backed by Arab states—Washington is circulating a revised version of its own resolution.

The United States is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza only after the conclusion of diplomatic efforts. In so doing, it has found itself increasingly isolated from the 15-member body but has largely stuck to its guns.

The freshly drafted text states that the council “unequivocally supports international diplomatic efforts to expeditiously and urgently conclude and begin implementing an agreement for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza together with the release of all hostages as soon as possible.”

It describes the ceasefire and the release of hostages as “necessary steps to help create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities and lasting peace.”

Washington initially unveiled a draft to counter an Algeria-written resolution that was vetoed last week by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the global body. Diplomats on the council immediately protested a large number of conditions attached to the U.S. texts, including for humanitarian aid going into Gaza and support for a temporary ceasefire “when practicable.”

The new document also emphasizes the urgent need to scale up the delivery of assistance into Gaza and demands that all parties cooperate with Sigrid Kaag, the U.N. point woman on Gaza aid and reconstruction.

However, the draft resolution language has not changed much with respect to a potential Israeli military operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in the enclave.

The original draft stated that it “underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.” The new text says that such an offensive should not proceed “until the safety and well-being of civilians can be ensured.” 

That addition is unlikely to placate critics, who believe that Washington will still give Israel a green light for an offensive, despite the Biden administration’s protests that a proper evacuation of the city must take place first.

The new text also supports an investigation of the scandal-plagued UNRWA—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East—demanding accountability for agency workers found to have participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

The draft resolution also condemns statements by Israeli government ministers that it says call for the resettlement of Gaza residents outside of the coastal enclave or the establishment of new Jewish communities in the Strip.

The United States has requested that any council members wishing to comment on the new text due so by the end of the day on Tuesday.

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