UN Security Council adopts Gaza cease-fire resolution

Written by on March 25, 2024

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — The U.N. Security Council voted Monday to adopt a resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza for the remaining days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the unconditional release of hostages being held by Hamas terrorists.

The Security Council said the resolution could lead to a lasting sustainable cease-fire in the nearly five-month conflict.

The Security Council voted 14-0 with the United States abstaining.

Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer and reflection observed by Muslims worldwide, began on March 10 and runs through April 9.

The vote came as the U.S. withdrew from its consistent position in the Security Council where only a few days ago it linked a cease-fire with the release of the abductees.

On Friday, China and Russia vetoed the previous cease-fire resolution partly because they supported a cease-fire without the release of the abductees.

Russia and China supported the current decision, along with Algeria and other countries.

The United States did not exercise its option to veto Monday’s vote.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear Sunday night that if the United States withdrew from its principled position, he would not send a high-level Israeli delegation to Washington. The delegation was poised to travel to Washington to discuss Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Following Monday’s vote, Netanyahu made good on his promise to cancel the Israeli delegation’s trip to Washington.

The U.S. decision to abstain from voting and not to veto Monday’s resolution is a “clear retreat” from the consistent position it has held in the Security Council since the beginning of the war, Netanyahu said.

“This withdrawal hurts both the war effort and the effort to release the hostages because it gives Hamas hope that international pressure will allow them to accept a ceasefire without the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

A White House official said Netanyahu canceled the Israeli delegation’s visit to Washington without calling or consulting President Joe Biden on his decision. Biden has not called Netanyahu and has no plans to do so, the official said, adding that the White House is perplexed by the Israeli prime minister’s assertion that the U.S. had changed its policy.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the position the U.S. took on Monday’s vote “reaffirms the U.S. position that a cease-fire of any duration come as part of an agreement to release hostages in Gaza.”

“While we do not agree with all provisions included in this text, adjustments made by the resolution’s sponsors over recent days are consistent with our principled position that any ceasefire text must be paired with text on the release of the hostages,” Blinken said in a statement.

Blinken added, “Because the final text does not have key language we view as essential, notably a condemnation of Hamas, we could not support it. Failure to condemn Hamas is particularly difficult to understand coming days after the world once again witnessed the horrific acts terrorist groups commit.”

White House national security communications adviser John Kirby expressed disappointment in Netanyahu’s decision to cancel the Israeli delegation’s visit to Washington.

“We’re very disappointed that they won’t be coming to Washington, D.C., to allow us to have a fulsome conversation with them about viable alternatives to going in on the ground in Rafah,” Kirby told reporters Monday.

Kirby added that the U.S. had been “looking forward to having an opportunity to speak to an Israeli delegation later this week about exploring viable options and alternatives to a major ground defensive in Rafah” but pledged that conversations with Israeli counterparts would continue.

Kirby said scheduled meetings with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday and Tuesday were still on and he expected them to include “ample” discussion on Israel’s plan for Rafah.

Following the passage of the resolution, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, explained why the U.S. abstained, saying that while she “appreciated the willingness” of the council to incorporate feedback, “certain key edits were ignored, including our request to add a condemnation of Hamas.”

“We did not agree with everything in the resolution,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “For that reason, we were unable to vote yes.”

Thomas-Greenfield spoke before the latest developments from the Israeli side came to light. She argued that the resolution supported efforts to secure the release of hostages in Gaza in exchange for peace through a diplomatic arrangement.

“The United States’ support for these objectives is not simply rhetorical,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

She added that negotiators were making progress on securing a hostage deal, but that Hamas was still reluctant.

The ambassador implored all U.N. members to “speak out and demand unequivocally” that Hamas accept the deal on the table.

“This is the only path to securing a cease-fire and the release of hostages,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “That is what this resolution means, a cease-fire of any duration must come with the release of hostages. This is the only path.”

Hamas officials issued a statement Monday, saying it “welcomes the U.N. Security Council’s call today for an immediate cease-fire, and we stress the necessity of reaching a permanent cease-fire that leads to the withdrawal of all Zionist forces from the Gaza Strip, and the return of the displaced to the homes from which they left.”

“We also affirm our readiness to engage in an immediate prisoner exchange process that leads to the release of prisoners on both sides,” Hamas said in its statement.

Russia objected to the vote, complaining that the original copies of the draft called for a “permanent cease-fire” following the truce through Ramadan, but that it had been scrubbed just an hour before the council convened for the vote.

An official familiar with pre-vote negotiations said that council members were negotiating up to the wire, as the U.S. haggled for revisions that would allow it to abstain from the vote rather than veto the resolution.

The resolution is the first passed by the Security Council since the Israel-Hamas conflict began and it was introduced by the 10 non-permanent members of the council — Algeria, Ecuador, Guyana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Korea and Switzerland.

Monday’s Security Council meeting began with a minute of silence for Russia and the victims of Friday’s terrorist attack at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall shopping and entertainment complex that left 137 people, including three children, dead. The terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

“At the top, I want to express my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of last week’s terrorist attack in Moscow,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “We condemn terrorism in all its forms and stand in solidarity with the Russian people in grieving the loss of life from this horrific event.”

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford and Selina Wang contributed to this report.

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