UN Security Council approves US proposal for Gaza ceasefire

Israel's war in Gaza has entered its ninth month. Credit: AP

The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution vote on the US proposal for a permanent ceasefire and release of hostages in Gaza.

The Security Council welcomed a ceasefire proposal that the US says Israel has accepted - it was adopted with 14 votes for, zero against. Russia abstained.

The resolution calls on Hamas to accept a three-phase plan. However, whether the two parties actually agree to plans is another matter.

Leaders of Hamas have said that any deal must lead to a permanent ceasefire, a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and a "serious exchange deal" between Gaza-held hostages and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

The Security Council accepted the measure. Credit: AP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, urging his government to approve the ceasefire proposal.

When Joe Biden announced the deal he indicated Israel had accepted it but Mr Netanyahu has been skeptical and said his country would carry on fighting until Hamas was destroyed.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated that Israel had accepted the ceasefire on Monday.

What is the three-phase proposal mooted by the US?

President Joe Biden announced the proposal on May 31, saying it would begin with an initial six-month cease-fire with the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza and the return of Palestinian civilians to all areas in the territory.

  • Phase one also requires the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance “at scale throughout the Gaza Strip,” which Biden said would lead to 600 trucks with aid entering Gaza every day.

  • In phase two, the draft resolution says that with the agreement of Israel and Hamas, “a permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” will take place.

  • Phase three would launch “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families.”

On the same day, Israeli diplomat Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly said her country would not "engage in meaningless and endless negotiations, which can be exploited by Hamas as a means to stall for time."

Hamas said it welcomed the adoption of the resolution and was ready to work with mediators in indirect negotiations with Israel to implement it.

Four Israeli hostages were rescued on Saturday, but the military operation is thought to have cost the lives of 274 Palestinians.

The statement was among the strongest from Hamas to date, but it stressed the group would continue its struggle against Israeli occupation and work on setting up a "fully sovereign" Palestinian state.

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters earlier on Monday that the United States wanted all 15 Security Council members to support what he described as “the best, most realistic opportunity to bring at least a temporary halt to this war”.

Algeria’s UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama, the Arab representative on the council, said that while the text isn’t perfect, “it offers a glimmer of hope to the Palestinians, as the alternative is (the) continuing killing and suffering of the Palestinian people.”

“We voted for this text to give diplomacy a chance to reach an agreement that will end the aggression against the Palestinian people that has lasted far too long,” Bendjama said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Avi. Credit: AP

It reiterates the Security Council’s “unwavering commitment to achieving the vision of a negotiated two-state solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders.”

And it stresses “the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”

This is something Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing government has not agreed to, but international and domestic pressure to make a deal and lay out a plan for post-war Gaza is rising.

Centrist Benny Gantz resigned from Israel's three-man war cabinet on Sunday, accusing Mr Netanyahu of mismanaging the war, leaving the unity government on shaky ground.

While the move does not immediately pose a threat to Mr Netanyahu, who still controls a majority coalition in parliament, it will force him to become heavily reliant on far-right allies who oppose the US-backed ceasefire proposal and want to press ahead with the war.

Mr Gantz said: "Unfortunately, Netanyahu is preventing us from achieving true victory, which is the justification for the painful and ongoing price."

He added that Mr Netanyahu was "making empty promises," and the country needs to take a different direction as he expects the fighting to continue for years to come.

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