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Thursday, February 29, 2024

UN Security Council Delays Gaza Aid Vote: U.S. Backs Revised Resolution

The U.N. Security Council faced another delay in voting on a revised resolution for providing aid to Gaza. This delay stems from a division in opinions, with the United States supporting a watered-down version, while other countries advocate for a stronger text, including the now-eliminated call for the urgent suspension of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Revised Draft Resolution

The revised draft, discussed behind closed doors, introduces significant changes, prompting council members to seek consultations with their respective capitals. The vote, initially scheduled for Monday, has been postponed to Friday. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield affirmed the U.S. backing for the new text, insisting it remains a robust resolution fully supported by the Arab group.

High-Level Negotiations

The diplomatic landscape witnessed a week and a half of negotiations involving U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden. President Biden highlighted ongoing negotiations on “a resolution that we may be able to agree to.” The prolonged discussions led to the present delay in the voting process.

U.S. Stance

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield refuted claims of the resolution being watered down, asserting its strength and the Arab group’s support. However, a crucial provision calling for the urgent suspension of hostilities was eliminated, raising questions about the resolution’s efficacy.

Key Provisions Eliminated

The revised resolution now calls for urgent steps to allow safe humanitarian access and create conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities. The draft also removes the exclusive U.N. monitoring of relief consignments to Gaza, substituting it with a request to the U.N. Secretary-General.

Bypassing Council Members

In a controversial move, the U.S. negotiated the draft with the UAE and Egypt, excluding other council members from the process. Thomas-Greenfield stated that the revised resolution aligns with Egypt’s priorities in establishing a mechanism for humanitarian assistance.

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, emphasizing the urgent need for aid. A report by 23 U.N. and humanitarian agencies revealed alarming statistics, with Gaza’s entire population facing a food crisis, and over half at a catastrophic starvation level.

Casualties and International Reactions

The conflict in Gaza has resulted in nearly 20,000 Palestinian casualties. President Biden expressed concerns about Israel losing international support due to indiscriminate bombing. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged Israel to shift from high-intensity operations to targeted efforts.

Defense Secretary’s Pressures

Austin’s plea underscores the evolving dynamics, urging Israel to focus on killing Hamas leaders, destroying tunnels, and rescuing hostages. This marks a significant shift in approach from high-intensity operations.

Changes in Draft Resolution

A major change in the U.S.-backed draft resolution is the removal of condemnation for violations of international humanitarian law. Instead, it demands the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and reaffirms the parties’ obligations under international law.

Two-State Solution and Unification

The draft resolution reaffirms the Security Council’s commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. It also stresses the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.

Legal Implications of Resolutions

Security Council resolutions carry legal weight, but adherence varies. The General Assembly’s resolutions, while not legally binding, reflect global opinions. The ongoing complexities of the situation make resolution adherence challenging.

Previous Unified Actions

Past unified actions by the Security Council, including humanitarian pauses and aid deliveries, highlight the ongoing challenges. The U.S. abstained in its first unified action on Nov. 15, adopting a resolution demanding humanitarian pauses. However, it later vetoed a similar resolution on Dec. 8.

General Assembly’s Stance

The General Assembly’s approval of a comparable resolution emphasizes the global concern for the situation. With a vote count of 153-10, the resolution garnered widespread support, indicating the urgency and severity of the crisis.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the delayed vote on the U.N. Security Council’s revised resolution underscores the complexity of addressing the Gaza crisis. The elimination of key provisions and differing global stances complicate efforts to provide effective aid and achieve a sustainable cessation of hostilities. As the situation unfolds, international collaboration remains crucial for navigating the intricate diplomatic landscape.

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