UN Security Council Passes Resolution Demanding Immediate Cease-Fire in Gaza
UN Security Council Passes Resolution Demanding Immediate Cease-Fire in Gaza

By Jack Phillips

The United Nations Security Council demanded an immediate cease-fire in the Israel–Gaza conflict and the immediate release of all hostages on March 25, as the United States abstained from the vote and didn’t veto the measure.

Other than the United States, the remaining 14 members of the U.N. Security Council voted for the cease-fire resolution, which was proposed by the 10 elected members of the body: Algeria, Ecuador, Guyana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, South Korea, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, and Slovenia.

Moments after the vote that passed the cease-fire resolution, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres wrote on social media platform X that “this resolution must be implemented.”

“Failure would be unforgivable,” he wrote.

“The Palestinian people [have] suffered greatly. This bloodbath has continued for far too long. It is our obligation to put an end to this bloodbath, before it is too late,” Algeria’s U.N. Ambassador Amar Bendjama told the Security Council after the vote was held.

The White House has been averse to a cease-fire in the nearly six-month-old war in the Gaza Strip, following Hamas’s Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attack in Israel in which roughly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and hundreds of hostages were taken. The United States has also exercised its Security Council veto power to block resolutions unfavorable to Israel in its conflict with Hamas.

But amid growing global and domestic pressure, the United States on March 25 abstained from the vote to allow the Security Council to demand an immediate cease-fire during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends on March 31.

US Reacts

Before the vote on March 25, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield was critical of what she described as a cynical approach by China and Russia, two permanent members of the Security Council, and said the resolution doesn’t do enough to classify Hamas as a terrorist organization. Russia and China have vetoed previous, U.S.-drafted versions of the resolution, including one on March 22.

“Just last week, Russia and China vetoed a resolution that condemned this horrific attack, a resolution the vast majority of this council supported. They have shown time and time again that they are not actually interested in advancing a durable peace through diplomatic efforts,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said.

“Nor for all their rhetoric are they interested in making any meaningful contributions to humanitarian efforts. Instead, they are using this devastating conflict as a political cudgel to try to divide this council at a time when we need to come together. It is deeply, deeply cynical. And we should all see through it.”

Regarding Hamas, she said that “certain key edits were ignored, including our requests to add a condemnation of Hamas. And we did not agree with everything in the resolution. For that reason, we were unfortunately not able to vote yes.”

The U.N. ambassador added that a cease-fire and the release of hostages will allow “much more humanitarian aid to get into Gaza at a time when famine is looming large and provide an opportunity to work toward a sustainable cessation of hostilities, and toward a future where Hamas can no longer threaten Israel, and never repeat Oct. 7.”

The United States has vetoed three draft council resolutions on the war in Gaza. It has also previously abstained twice, allowing the council to adopt resolutions that aimed to boost aid to Gaza and called for extended pauses in fighting.

After discovering the United States wouldn’t issue the veto, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled an Israeli delegation to the White House, Israeli media reported. Mr. Netanyahu had urged the United States to veto the cease-fire resolution and threatened to cancel the trip.

“The U.S. retreated from its consistent position in the Security Council linking a cease-fire with the release of the hostages,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Resolutions passed by the U.N. Security Council are legally binding, according to its website, meaning that the order has to be carried out. It isn’t clear how Israel will react to the vote, and no public statements had been given by its government or Mr. Netanyahu’s office as of March 25.

Fighting Continues

On March 25, Israel’s military carried out new airstrikes in Gaza and targeted two hospitals. Israeli forces besieged Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis, Reuters reported, a week after they entered Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the main hospital in the Gaza Strip.

Israel says that hospitals in Gaza are used by Hamas as bases. Hamas and medical staff deny this.

The Israeli military said over the weekend that it had detained 500 people affiliated with Hamas and the allied Islamic Jihad and located weapons in the Al Shifa area. Israel’s military also said 20 terrorists had been “eliminated” in fighting and airstrikes around Al Amal Hospital over the previous 24 hours.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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