6 June 2024

United Nations, United States – The UN Security Council will vote on a new draft resolution Tuesday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, despite the threat of a third US veto on such a text.

The document, prepared by Algeria, “demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that must be respected by all parties.”

The vote comes as Israel prepares to move into the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, where some 1.4 million people have fled, as part of its mission to destroy Hamas.

However it is facing increased pressure to hold off, including from its closest ally the United States.

The draft resolution opposes the “forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population.”

It additionally demands the release of all Hamas hostages.

Similarly to other previous drafts spurned by the United States and Israel, the new text does not condemn Hamas’s October 7 assault.

That attack left about 1,160 people dead in southern Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed more than 29,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The United States warned over the weekend that Algeria’s text was not acceptable, threatening to veto it.

“We don’t believe that this Council product will help the situation on the ground,” US deputy ambassador to the UN Robert Wood said Monday.

“If this resolution does come to a vote, it will not go forward.”

According to Wood, the passage of such a ceasefire resolution would endanger ongoing delicate diplomatic negotiations which could see the release of hostages from Gaza.

The United States instead began circulating an alternate draft, seen by AFP Monday.

While that text does include the word “ceasefire” — which the United States has previously avoided, vetoing two drafts in October and December which used the term — it does not call for the end of hostilities to happen immediately.

– ‘Moral obligation’ –

Echoing recent comments by President Joe Biden, the US draft supports a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.”

It also mentions concern for Rafah, stating that “a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

There is no “deadline” for a vote on the American draft, a senior US official said Monday, adding there would be no “rush.”

But even if there is no hurry, the US text “as it is… cannot pass,” one diplomatic source said, citing several issues around the phrasing of “ceasefire” and the risk that any text introduced to the 15-member body by the United States might face a veto from Russia.

In any case, the mere fact the United States has introduced a counter-resolution is likely to “make Israel nervous,” Richard Gowan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, told AFP.

“The US is finally using the Security Council as a platform to signal the limits of its patience with the Israeli campaign,” Gowan said.

Despite the specter of a US veto, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour had insisted on a vote days ago, saying that the Arab Group had been “more than generous to give our colleagues additional time.”

According to Gowan, “We are now grinding towards a US veto that nobody really wants, but nobody can avoid,” noting that the vote will fall within a few days of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I am sure that Russia will use the opportunity (of a US veto) to accuse the US of having double standards when it comes to dealing with civilian suffering in Ukraine and the Middle East,” Gowan said.

Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said it is “sad that we cannot come (up) with a ceasefire… and that only one delegation is preventing that.”

Chinese representative Jun Zhang said the Security Council has a “moral obligation” to take action “to stop the killings,” pointing out that the United States may veto such a move but meanwhile they are “always calling for protection of human rights.”

by Agence France-Presse