The UN Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution calling for an increase in aid to desperate civilians in Gaza and a pause in fighting to deliver that aid safely, ending nearly a week of intense diplomatic wrangling aimed at ensure that the United States did not block the measure.
The vote was 13-0, with the United States and Russia abstaining. At the insistence of the United States, the measure did not require an immediate truce. Instead, it called for “urgent and prolonged humanitarian pauses and corridors” on unspecified dates and locations, “to enable full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access.”
The United States, under pressure from Jerusalem to preserve Israeli inspections of aid, delayed multiple scheduled votes on the resolution as negotiators tried to reach a compromise and avoid a US veto.
“The United States managed to extricate itself from a pretty serious diplomatic mess this week,” said Richard Gowan, U.N. director for the International Crisis Group. “I think many UN members will not be happy with the very complicated text that the Council just approved, but they will also be relieved that the Council can reach an agreement on anything.”
It was unclear how the resolution would affect the current fighting in Gaza, where health officials say around 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes and ground operations, or whether their demands for increased humanitarian aid deliveries along all routes could be implemented. available. The resolution also calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken during the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on October 7.
Security Council resolutions are legally binding on member states, but enforcing them, which requires consensus, can be difficult.
“We know that this is not a perfect text,” said Lana Nusseibeh, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, who has been leading the negotiations. “We know that only a ceasefire will end the suffering.”
Before the final vote, Russia proposed an amendment that would have partially returned to an earlier draft of the resolution, including a demand for a suspension of hostilities, but the United States vetoed that change.
A major sticking point had been the question of whether Israel would continue to inspect all aid shipments, which U.N. officials said had delayed the delivery of food, fuel, medicine and other aid. Israel, however, struggled to maintain its oversight of aid arriving in Gaza.
“Just as this Council is committed to increasing aid, it should also commit to blocking smuggling and the transfer of weapons to Hamas terrorists,” said Jonathan Miller, Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UN.
The first step according to the resolution is for the UN secretary general to appoint a special coordinator responsible for “facilitating, coordinating, monitoring and verifying” that the aid entering Gaza is humanitarian in nature, who must “consult all relevant parties ”.
The coordinator will be tasked with negotiating with all parties to expedite the delivery of aid and must present a progress report to the Council within 20 days.
Although she abstained, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, said the resolution “speaks to the severity of the crisis and calls on us all to do more.” She added that the Council “must continue to support the resumption of humanitarian pauses.”
Ms. Thomas-Greenfield did not explain the United States’ abstention, but said she was deeply disappointed that the resolution did not condemn the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, said U.S. efforts to change the text to its liking were “cynical and shameful” and “not transparent.” He said the resolution had been watered down to the point that it gave “the green light to Israeli forces to commit war crimes.” The only reason Russia did not veto the resolution, he said, was because it had the backing of Arab states.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he hoped the resolution “makes people understand that a humanitarian ceasefire is something that is really needed if we want humanitarian aid to be effective.”
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the UN, gave an emotional speech to the Council in which he told the story of a girl who lost her parents and then died a few days later in an attack on a hospital. He accused Israel of disproportionate attacks on Gaza.
“This resolution is a step in the right direction,” Mansour said. “It must be implemented and must be accompanied by massive pressure for an immediate ceasefire.”