UN Security Council Endorses US-Proposed Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Plan

UN Security Council Endorses US-Proposed Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Plan

In a pivotal move towards peace in the Middle East, the United Nations Security Council has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a US-proposed ceasefire plan for Israel and Gaza. The resolution, which sets out conditions for a “full and complete ceasefire,” received the backing of 14 out of the 15 Security Council members, with Russia abstaining.

The comprehensive plan, unveiled by US President Joe Biden on 31 May, aims to address the ongoing conflict througlh a structured approach. It includes the release of hostages held by Hamas, the return of deceased hostages’ remains, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners. The resolution also indicates Israel’s acceptance of the ceasefire proposal and urges Hamas to agree to it as well.

President Biden highlighted the international support for the plan, which aligns with the backing from the G7 group of the world’s richest nations. The plan’s endorsement by the Security Council is expected to increase pressure on both sides to comply and work towards ending the conflict.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been actively engaging with foreign leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to garner support for the peace deal. Shortly before the UN vote, Mr Blinken emphasised the need for Hamas to agree to the ceasefire, stating, “If you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say yes.”

While Hamas has expressed partial support for the plan and welcomed the Security Council resolution, its political leadership in Doha has yet to formally respond. The group is likely to seek assurances that the ceasefire will lead to a permanent cessation of hostilities and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

The proposed ceasefire plan is divided into three phases. The first phase involves a hostage-prisoner swap and a short-term ceasefire. The second phase calls for a “permanent end to hostilities” and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The third phase focuses on the long-term reconstruction of Gaza, which has suffered extensive destruction during the conflict.

The resolution comes ten days after President Biden announced Israel’s agreement to the plan. However, internal political dynamics within Israel, including opposition from some far-right ministers and the recent resignation of former general Benny Gantz from the war cabinet, have created uncertainties regarding the plan’s full endorsement by the Israeli government.

President Biden took to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to highlight the resolution’s passage, stating, “Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.”

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield echoed these sentiments, declaring, “Today we voted for peace.” UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward described the situation in Gaza as “catastrophic” and urged both parties to seize the opportunity for lasting peace and stability. UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron also welcomed the resolution.

Russia’s abstention was explained by UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who raised concerns about the clarity of Israel’s commitment to ending its military operations in Gaza. China’s UN ambassador also questioned the efficacy of the resolution, noting the lack of implementation of previous similar resolutions.

The conflict, which began with a Hamas attack on southern Israel on 7 October, has resulted in significant casualties. Approximately 1,200 people were killed and 251 taken hostage in the initial attack, while the Hamas-run health ministry reports that over 37,000 have died in Gaza since Israel’s response.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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