UN resolution passed: A step towards alleviating Gazan suffering, or too watered down?

The United States abstained in today's vote - having vetoed a resolution on Gaza earlier this month. Credit: AP

After several delays, the UN Security Council finally passed a resolution on Gaza on Friday, ITV News' US Correspondent Dan Rivers reports

The hugs and back-slapping in the chamber of the UN Security Council tonight might lead you to think the war had ended.

Instead, it was a small step towards possibly alleviating some of the suffering of 2 million Gazans enduring ever more alarming conditions.

I say "possibly", because it’s not clear whether the Resolution passed today will actually have much effect on the ground. 

The language in the text of the Resolution has been haggled over for days. In the end, at America and Israel’s insistence, it was watered down considerably from the first draft put forward by the United Arab Emirates.

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There was no mention of a ceasefire of course - that was far too controversial for the US and Israel, who both felt it could have handed a PR victory to Hamas. 

But gone too were demands for a cessation of hostilities replaced instead by calls to “create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

“Creating conditions” in that sentence could be interpreted in a number of ways.

It could be inferred by the Israelis as a green-light to continue attacking Hamas because in the Israeli government’s view, as long as Hamas remain in place, there can be no sustainable peace. 

Elsewhere, the text fell short of demanding the UN exclusively be in charge of overseeing the flow of aid into Gaza.

Instead, a Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator from the UN will be appointed with responsibility for “facilitating coordinating, monitoring and verifying” the nature of all relief.

It doesn’t say they will do this exclusively, leaving open the likelihood that Israel will continue to have a role in checking what is entering Gaza. 

All these changes resulted in Russia castigating the US for the way it had handled the haggling. Moscow abstained on the subsequent vote. So too did the United States, angry that no condemnation or even mention of Hamas was included in the final draft. 

But after the vote, there was evident relief among the gathered diplomats. There were all desperate to avoid another veto just before the Christmas break, and the obvious accusations that the UN Security Council is irrelevant.