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19 December 2023

UN Security Council vote on Gaza humanitarian resolution delayed again

19 December 2023

A UN Security Council vote on an Arab-sponsored resolution to spur desperately needed humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza during some kind of a halt in the fighting, first postponed from Monday, has been pushed back again until Wednesday.

Security Council members were in intense negotiations on Tuesday.

“We’re still working through the modalities of the resolution,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday afternoon when the vote was still set for 5pm.

It's important for us that the rest of the world understand what’s at stake here and what Hamas did on October 7 and how Israel has a right to defend itself against those threats

“It’s important for us that the rest of the world understand what’s at stake here and what Hamas did on October 7 and how Israel has a right to defend itself against those threats.”

The vote was later cancelled as the US asked for more time. Talks were continuing in an effort to get the Biden administration to abstain or vote in favor of the resolution.

The draft resolution on the table on Monday morning called for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities”, but this language was watered down in a new draft circulated early on Tuesday.

It now “calls for the urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities.”

The US in the past has opposed language on a cessation of hostilities.

The US on December 8 vetoed a Security Council resolution backed by almost all other council members and dozens of other nations demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

The 193-member General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a similar resolution on December 12 by a vote of 153-10, with 23 abstentions.

In its first unified action on November 15, with the US abstaining, the Security Council adopted a resolution calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” in the fighting, unhindered aid deliveries to civilians and the unconditional release of all hostages.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said during a briefing with ambassadors that Israel is “ready for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid in order to enable the release of hostages”.

But Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh of the United Arab Emirates, the Arab representative on the 15-member council, said on Tuesday a new resolution had to go “a little bit further” than the November 15 resolution.

Security Council resolutions are important because they are legally binding, but in practice many parties choose to ignore the council’s requests for action.General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, though they are a significant barometer of world opinion.

Nearly 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry since Israel declared war on Hamas following its surprise attacks in southern Israel on October 7.

The Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and took about 240 hostages back to Gaza.

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