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UN Security Council calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after US abstains in vote

Netanyahu cancels an Israeli delegation scheduled to arrive in Washington to discuss Rafah operational plans

Members of the UNSC meet on the day of a vote on a Gaza resolution that demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, at UN headquarters in New York City, March 25, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

The United Nations Security Council approved a draft resolution on Monday demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan after the United States abstained in the vote.

While the resolution called for the release of the hostages, it did not condition a ceasefire upon their release.

A U.S. veto would have prevented the resolution from passing. Instead, the measure passed 14-0. The U.S. had blocked similar resolutions in the past.

Israel considers the U.S. decision as a withdrawal from its consistent position throughout the war that started on Oct. 7. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu decided not to send a delegation to Washington, which was supposed to be led by Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer to discuss Israel’s plans for a military operation in Rafah.

“The United States has abandoned its policy in the UN today. Just a few days ago, it supported a Security Council resolution that linked a call for a ceasefire to the release of hostages,” the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“China and Russia vetoed that resolution partly because they opposed a ceasefire that was linked to the release of hostages. Yet today, Russia and China joined Algeria and others in supporting the new resolution precisely because it had no such linkage.”

“Regrettably, the United States did not veto the new resolution, which calls for a ceasefire that is not contingent on the release of hostages. This constitutes a clear departure from the consistent US position in the Security Council since the beginning of the war,” the statement continued.

“Today’s resolution gives Hamas hope that international pressure will force Israel to accept a ceasefire without the release of our hostages, thus harming both the war effort and the effort to release the hostages.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear last night that should the US depart from its principled policy and not veto this harmful resolution, he will cancel the Israeli delegation's visit to the United States. In light of the change in the U.S. position, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided that the delegation will remain in Israel,” the statement concluded.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was “very disappointed about Netanyahu's decision not to send his advisors for talks at the White House about the Rafah operation.”

Kirby insisted there has been no change in America's position and the U.S. only supports a permanent ceasefire if the hostages are returned.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield labeled the resolution as ‘non-binding,’ telling the council: "We did not agree with everything in the resolution. For that reason, we were unfortunately not able to vote yes... We fully support some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution.”

“This resolution rightly acknowledges that, during the month of Ramadan, we must recommit to peace. Hamas can do that by accepting the deal on the table. A ceasefire can begin immediately with the release of the first hostage. And so, we must put pressure on Hamas to do just that,” said Thomas-Greenfield.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the council that the return of the hostages should be its “number one priority.”

“Your demand for a ceasefire without making it conditional on the release of our hostages harms the efforts to release them and gives Hamas hope to achieve a ceasefire without releasing them. All members of the council should have opposed this proposal,” Erdan stated.

Hamas welcomed the UN Security Council’s decision and issued the following statement: “We emphasize the need to reach a permanent ceasefire that would lead to the withdrawal of all Zionist forces from the Gaza Strip and the return of refugees to their homes. We also highlight our will to engage in a prisoners’ exchange measure that would lead to a release on both sides.”  

UN Sec.-Gen. António Guterres tweeted following the vote: "The Security Council just approved a long-awaited resolution on Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable."

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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