UN Security Council vote on Gaza humanitarian resolution delayed again in effort to avoid US veto

UN Security Council vote on Gaza humanitarian resolution delayed again in effort to avoid US veto © Provided by The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Security Council members were in intense negotiations Tuesday on an Arab-sponsored resolution to spur desperately needed humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza during some kind of a halt in the fighting, trying to avoid another veto by the United States. A vote on the resolution, first postponed from Monday, was pushed back again until Wednesday.

“We’re still working through the modalities of the resolution,” U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday afternoon when the vote was still set for 5 p.m. “It’s important for us that the rest of the world understand what’s at stake here and what Hamas did on the 7th of October and how Israel has a right to defend itself against those threats.”

The vote was later canceled as the United States asked for more time. Talks were continuing in an effort to get the Biden administration to abstain or vote in favor of the resolution.

The draft resolution on the table Monday morning called for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities,” but this language was watered down in a new draft circulated early Tuesday.

It now “calls for the urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities.” The United States in the past has opposed language on a cessation of hostilities.

The U.S. on Dec. 8 vetoed a Security Council resolution backed by almost all other council members and dozens of other nations demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza. The 193-member General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a similar resolution on Dec. 12 by a vote of 153-10, with 23 abstentions.

In its first unified action on Nov. 15, with the U.S. abstaining, the Security Council adopted a resolution calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” in the fighting, unhindered aid deliveries to civilians and the unconditional release of all hostages.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said during a briefing with ambassadors that Israel is “ready for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid in order to enable the release of hostages.”

But Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh of the United Arab Emirates, the Arab representative on the 15-member council, said Tuesday a new resolution had to go “a little bit further” than the Nov. 15 resolution.

Security Council resolutions are important because they are legally binding, but in practice many parties choose to ignore the council’s requests for action. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, though they are a significant barometer of world opinion.

Nearly 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry since Israel declared war on Hamas following its surprise attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7. The Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and took about 240 hostages back to Gaza.

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, and its Health Ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths. Thousands more Palestinians lie buried under the rubble of Gaza, the U.N. estimates.

At a Security Council meeting Tuesday morning, U.N. Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland said the humanitarian response “is on the brink” and Israel’s limited responses “fall far short of what is needed to address the human catastrophe on the ground.”

UAE Deputy Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab told the council “Gazans are experiencing unprecedented levels of starvation and thirst, while doctors lack even the most basic of medical supplies to treat the wounded and the growing threat of infection.” He said the resolution aims to meet their needs and stressed that “Israel must stop blocking the entry of aid,” commercial cargo and aid workers.

The draft resolution circulated early Tuesday by the UAE expresses “deep concern at the dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and its grave impact on the civilian population.”

The draft recognizes that civilians in Gaza don’t have access to sufficient food, water, sanitation, electricity, telecommunications and medical services “essential for their survival.” And it reaffirms the council’s “strong concern for the disproportionate effect that the conflict is having on the lives and well-being of children, women and other civilians in vulnerable situations.”

The proposed resolution demands that parties to the conflict — Israel and Hamas, who are not named — facilitate aid deliveries by land, sea and air throughout the Gaza Strip, including through the border crossing at Karem Shalom.

It calls for the U.N. to establish a mechanism for monitoring the aid deliveries. This could be problematic because it bypasses the current Israeli inspection of aid entering Gaza.

The latest draft also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and adherence to international humanitarian law, which requires the protection of civilians and the homes, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure essential for their survival.

It reiterates the Security Council’s “unwavering commitment to the vision of the two-state solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders … and in this regard stresses the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”


Matthew Lee and Zeke Miller in Washington and Melanie Lidman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Source: Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press