UN Security Council Backs US-Led Ceasefire Plan for Gaza, Urges Hamas to Agree

Feature and Cover UN Security Council Backs US Led Ceasefire Plan for Gaza Urges Hamas to Agree

The United Nations Security Council has endorsed a U.S. resolution supporting a ceasefire plan for the conflict in Gaza. The resolution outlines conditions for a comprehensive ceasefire, the release of hostages held by Hamas, the return of deceased hostages’ remains, and an exchange of Palestinian prisoners. The resolution passed with 14 out of 15 Security Council members voting in favor; Russia abstained.

The resolution acknowledges Israel’s acceptance of the ceasefire plan and urges Hamas to agree as well. This aligns the Security Council with several governments and the G7 group of wealthy nations in backing the three-part plan presented by President Joe Biden on May 31. Biden initially described it as an Israeli ceasefire proposal.

Israel’s proposal, submitted to the U.S. and mediators Qatar and Egypt, is reportedly more detailed than Biden’s summary. The full content remains undisclosed, and it is uncertain if it differs from what Biden presented. Israel’s three-man war cabinet agreed to the proposal, but it has not been shared with the broader government, where some far-right ministers have already voiced opposition.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not explicitly stated his support for Biden’s version of the plan. The resolution’s approval came soon after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with regional leaders, including Netanyahu, to garner support for the ceasefire. Before the UN vote, Blinken urged regional leaders to pressure Hamas to accept the ceasefire, stating, “If you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say yes.”

Hamas has indicated support for parts of the plan and welcomed the Security Council resolution in a statement on Monday. They emphasized their demand for a permanent ceasefire, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners. Hamas is prepared to cooperate with mediators and engage in “indirect negotiations,” although its political leadership in Doha has not formally responded to the proposal, according to U.S. and Israeli officials.

The proposal’s ultimate goal includes a significant reconstruction plan for Gaza, which has suffered extensive destruction. The first phase involves a hostage-prisoner swap and a short-term ceasefire. The second phase aims for a “permanent end to hostilities” and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as outlined in the U.S. draft resolution. The third phase focuses on Gaza’s long-term outlook and initiates a multi-year reconstruction plan.

The resolution follows President Biden’s announcement ten days prior that Israel had agreed to the plan. While Biden framed the peace initiative as Israeli, the U.S. is aware of Israel’s internal political challenges. Some far-right ministers threaten to collapse the government if the deal progresses, reflecting the fractious nature of Israel’s ruling coalition. Former general and centrist Benny Gantz’s resignation from the war cabinet on Sunday exacerbates this instability.

Biden’s account on X (formerly Twitter) highlighted the resolution’s passage, stating, “Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.” U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, remarked, “Today we voted for peace.” UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward described the Gaza situation as “catastrophic” and urged all parties to seize this opportunity for lasting peace and stability. UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron also welcomed the resolution.

Russia abstained, with its UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia questioning the clarity of the deal and Israel’s true commitment to ending its military operation in Gaza. Nebenzia asked, “Given the many statements from Israel on the extension of the war until Hamas is completely defeated… what specifically has Israel agreed to?” Despite voting in favor, China also expressed concerns about the resolution’s effectiveness, referencing previous UN resolutions on the conflict that were not implemented.

On March 25, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire. The U.S. had previously vetoed similar measures, arguing that such actions would hinder ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas. However, the U.S. abstained from the March resolution rather than vetoing it. Netanyahu criticized the U.S. at that time for “abandoning” its stance linking a ceasefire to the release of hostages.

The conflict began when Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, resulting in approximately 1,200 deaths and the capture of about 251 hostages. According to the Hamas-run health ministry, Gaza’s death toll has exceeded 37,000 since Israel’s retaliatory response.

The Security Council’s resolution and the broader international support for the ceasefire plan reflect a significant diplomatic effort to address the ongoing conflict and pave the way for lasting peace and reconstruction in Gaza.

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