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UN Security Council adopts ceasefire resolution aimed at ending Israel-Hamas war

It calls on Hamas, which initially said it viewed the proposal ‘positively’, to accept the three-phase plan.

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The UN Security Council has approved its first resolution endorsing a ceasefire plan aimed at ending the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The resolution welcomes a ceasefire proposal announced by President Joe Biden that the United States says Israel has accepted.

It calls on militant Palestinian group Hamas, which initially said it viewed the proposal “positively”, to accept the three-phase plan.

Hamas responded to the adoption by saying it welcomed the resolution and was ready to work with mediators in indirect negotiations with Israel to implement it.

The statement was among the strongest from Hamas to date but stressed the group would continue “our struggle” to end the Israeli occupation and work on setting up a “fully sovereign” Palestinian state.

Israeli soldiers in trucks
The resolution urges Israel and Hamas ‘to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition’ (Leo Correa)

The resolution, which the council voted 14-0 in favour, with Russia abstaining, urges Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition”.

US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after the vote that the council “sent a clear message to Hamas to accept the ceasefire deal on the table”, reiterating that Israel has accepted the deal which is supported by countries across the world.

“The fighting could stop today, if Hamas would do the same,” she told the council. “I repeat, this fighting could stop today.”

US deputy ambassador Robert Wood told reporters earlier on Monday that the United States wanted all 15 Security Council members to support what he described as “the best, most realistic opportunity to bring at least a temporary halt to this war”.

Whether Israel and Hamas agree to the three-phase ceasefire plan remains in question, but the resolution’s strong support in the UN’s most powerful body puts added pressure on both parties to approve the proposal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Mr Biden presented only parts of the proposal and insisted that any talk of a permanent ceasefire before dismantling Hamas’a military and governing capabilities is a nonstarter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Jack Guez/Pool Photo via AP)

The war was sparked by Hamas’s surprise October 7 attack in southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people, mainly Israeli civilians, and saw about 250 others taken hostage. About 120 hostages remain, with 43 pronounced dead.

Israel’s military offensive has killed more than 36,700 Palestinians and wounded in excess of 83,000 others, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It has also destroyed about 80% of Gaza’s buildings, according to the UN.

The Security Council adopted a resolution on March 25 demanding a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which ended on April 9, with the US abstaining. But there was no halt to the war.

The current draft resolution underscores “the importance of the ongoing diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States aimed at reaching a comprehensive ceasefire deal, consisting of three phases”. US secretary of state Antony Blinken is on his eighth trip to the Middle East since October 7 pursuing that goal.

Mr Biden’s May 31 announcement of the new ceasefire proposal said it would begin with an initial six-month ceasefire with the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza and the return of Palestinian civilians to all areas in the territory.

Phase one also requires the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance “at scale throughout the Gaza Strip”, which Mr Biden said would lead to 600 trucks with aid entering Gaza every day.

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres (AP)

Phase three would launch “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families”.

The resolution’s final draft would underline that the proposal says if negotiations take longer than six weeks for the first phase, “the ceasefire will still continue as long as negotiations continue”.

It would welcome “the readiness of the United States, Egypt and Qatar to work to ensure negotiations keep going until all the agreements are reached and phase two is able to begin”.

The final draft rejects any attempt to change Gaza’s territory or demography, or reduce its size, but drops wording that specifically mentioned the reduction by officially or unofficially establishing “so-called buffer zones”.

It also would reiterate the Security Council’s “unwavering commitment to achieving the vision of a negotiated two-state solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders”.

And it would stress “the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority”. This is something Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing government has not agreed to.

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