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UN Security Council Demands Gaza Cease-Fire as US Abstains

UN Security Council Demands Gaza Cease-Fire as US Abstains
Palestinians walk in front of a house damaged in Israeli bombardment in Rafah on March 22, 2024. Photographer: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, marking the first time the council has agreed to do so in the nearly six months since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Fourteen of 15 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, which was jointly proposed Monday by the 10 elected members of the council. The US abstained, citing the measure’s failure to explicitly condemn Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.The office of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had demanded a US veto of the resolution, and said it would “suspend” a visit by two of his top aides to Washington in response.

The text that was adopted demanded “an immediate cease-fire for the month of Ramadan,” which started March 10, and contended that should lead to a “lasting” and “sustainable” cease-fire. It also calls for the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

A Russian amendment saying this should lead to a “permanent” cease-fire was rejected.

Monday’s resolution marks the first time the Security Council has openly called for a cease-fire since Israel began its campaign to wipe out Hamas following the attacks by the militant group, which is considered a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

Without condemning Hamas by name, the resolution deplores “all violence and hostilities against civilians, and all acts of terrorism,” adding that the “taking of hostages is prohibited under international law.”

After the action at the UN, Netanyahu’s office called off a US visit by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi. They were due to leave Monday evening for meetings with Biden administration officials on Israel’s planned invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah and ways to greatly increase humanitarian aid to the embattled area.

Netanyahu told visiting Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday that Israel would go ahead with that invasion even without US support because taking apart the remaining Hamas battalions there is necessary to destroy the Hamas military and governing structure.

The US and other governments have been urging Israel to hold off on any Rafah attack because more than 1 million Palestinians are taking shelter there. At the same time, talks are underway in Qatar for a possible exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners as part of a six-week cease-fire.

(Updates with Netanyahu demanding a US veto starting in third paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the duration of the war in the first paragraph.)
© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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