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Resolution not vetoed by the US as UN Security Council passes resolution for ceasefire in Gaza

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The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza where an Israeli onslaught has led to the death of over 30,000 people, mostly women and children. The US, which had vetoed some previous resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire, did not veto that of Monday but abstained from voting. The other 14 members of the Security Council all voted in favour of the resolution. Immediately after the vote, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on social media that the “resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable.” Considering the period of Ramadan, the ceasefire demanded by the resolution would last for only about two weeks, though the draft says the pause in fighting should lead “to a permanent sustainable cease-fire.” Since the start of the war, the Security Council has adopted two resolutions on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, but none has called for a ceasefire. The resolution also called for the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.” The Israeli attack on Gaza started after Hamas militants attacked Israel on 7 October, causing the death of about 1,200 people, many of them civilians. The attackers also took over 200 hostages with about 100 still with Hamas following an earlier hostage swap and the death of some of the hostages during Israeli attacks. Israel had vowed to continue its attack on Gaza until Hamas, which governed Gaza, is eradicated. Gaza also faces a dire humanitarian emergency, with a report from an international authority on hunger warning on 18 March that “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza and that escalation of the war could push half of the territory’s 2.3 million people to the brink of starvation. The vote on Monday, 25 March became another showdown involving world powers that are locked in tense disputes elsewhere, with the United States taking criticism for not being tough enough against its ally Israel, even as tension between the two countries rises.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office blasted the move in a social media post as a “clear retreat from the consistent position of the US in the Security Council since the beginning of the war.” “This withdrawal hurts both the war effort and the effort to release the hostages because it gives Hamas hope that international pressure will allow them to accept a ceasefire without the release of our hostages,” Mr Netanyahu’s office said. It added that Mr Netanyahu had warned the Biden administration that if the US declined to block the new resolution, the Israeli leader would cancel a visit by a military delegation to Washington to discuss plans for a ground offensive in the crowded southern Gaza city of Rafah. “In light of the change in the American position, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided that the delegation would not go,” his office said in the social media thread on Monday. The US had vetoed three previous resolutions demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, the most recent an Arab-backed measure on 20 February. That resolution was supported by 13 council members with one abstention, reflecting the overwhelming support for a ceasefire.

The White House has, however, said it is “very disappointed” that Mr Netanyahu cancelled the high-level Israeli delegation’s planned visit to Washington. “It’s disappointing. We’re very disappointed that they won’t be coming to Washington DC. to allow us to have a fulsome conversation with them about viable alternatives to them going in on the ground in Rafah,” John Kirby, White House spokesperson, said. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are pleased with the resolution. Al Jazeera reports that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses that adopting the resolution is a step in the right direction to stop Israeli attacks on Gaza, facilitate the withdrawal of Israeli forces, allow the entry of aid, and allow the return of those displaced. The ministry’s statement also calls on the UN Security Council members to fulfil their legal responsibilities to implement the resolution immediately. It stresses the importance of securing the entry of aid, working to release Palestinian prisoners, preventing forced displacement of Palestinians and intensifying efforts to achieve a permanent and sustainable ceasefire that extends beyond Ramadan. “The consensus to stop the aggression against the Palestinian people must be accompanied by practical steps and consequences for Israel to stop the war,” the ministry said.

(Source: Al Jazeera)

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