U.N. Security Council passes Gaza cease-fire proposal drafted by the U.S.

A Palestinian girl climbs over debris a day after an operation by the Israeli Special Forces in the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on June 9, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. 

Eyad Baba | Afp | Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council passed a U.S.-drafted cease-fire deal aimed at halting eight months of bloody fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The draft of the resolution, which President Joe Biden approved, was finalized Sunday after almost a week of negotiations among members of the 15-member council.

For it to pass, the resolution needed at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the countries that have the power to send any cease-fire proposal back to the drawing board — the U.S., France, Britain, China or Russia.

China made no move to block it, and Russia abstained.

“Today, we voted for peace,” said the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

In March, China and Russia vetoed a Gaza cease-fire resolution, saying it would give Israel a green light to attack the city of Rafah. Before, it was the U.S. that vetoed three draft resolutions, two of which would have demanded an immediate cease-fire.

Biden announced on May 31 that Israel had proposed a three-part plan that would ultimately lead to a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, as well as the release of all hostages who have been held there since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched a bloody surprise attack on Israel.

Israeli forces have killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, including thousands of women and children, since then, according to Gaza health authorities.

Nate Evans, spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the U.N., said Sunday that it was important for the Security Council to put pressure on Hamas to agree to a proposal that Israel has accepted. 

“Israel has accepted this proposal and the Security Council has an opportunity to speak with one voice and call on Hamas to do the same,” he said.

But there already are signs that Israel may not be on board with this proposal.

The dramatic rescue of four hostages Saturday strengthened Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s determination to continue the Gaza invasion rather than agreeing to a cease-fire, a senior Biden administration official told NBC News on Sunday.

Hamas, on the other hand, said in a statement, in part, that it “welcomes what was included in and confirmed by the Security Council resolution regarding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.”

There had been concern that because so many Palestinian civilians perished as a result of the Israeli rescue raid Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar, who has held out against any deal with Israel despite intense pressure for a deal from Qatar and Egypt, would take an even harder line against the new cease-fire proposal. 

The European Union also applauded the vote. “We urge both parties to accept and implement the three-phase proposal,” it said in a statement.

Phase one of the resolution, according to the U.N., seeks an “immediate, full, and complete ceasefire with the release of hostages including women, the elderly and the wounded, the return of the remains of some hostages who have been killed, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.”

It also calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from “populated areas” of Gaza, the return of Palestinians to their homes, and the “safe and effective” distribution of humanitarian assistance. 

Phase two includes 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.”

Phase three would mark the start of “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza,” and the last remains of any of the dead hostages still in Gaza would be returned to Israel.

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“The ceasefire will continue as long as negotiations continue” and the Security Council rejects “any attempt at demographic or territorial change in Gaza.”

Right around the time the Security Council began voting Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel to, among other things, meet with retired Gen. Benny Gantz.

Benny Gantz resigns from Israeli war cabinet

Gantz, a centrist member of Israel’s war Cabinet, resigned Sunday after he accused Netanyahu of mismanaging the war and refusing to agree on what will happen to Gaza after the hostilities end.

The Biden administration had tried to persuade Gantz to stay in the government because his departure would force Netanyahu to lean more heavily on the far-right members of his coalition who oppose any cease-fire with Hamas.  

Before departing, Blinken told reporters at a press conference in Cairo that it’s up to the Israelis to decide who will be in their government. But, he added, if there is no cease-fire in Gaza, three scenarios could play out — all of them bad.

“Either Israel would have to stay, which (it) says it doesn’t want to do, and we believe it must not do, and we’ll be left holding the bag in Gaza,” Blinken said.

Second, it could lead to “a major insurgency” that would continue for years, he said.

Finally, Blinken said, “in the absence of a plan, it means Hamas returns, or we have a total vacuum and you just have chaos, lawlessness, criminality, jihadist groups, etc.” 

Israel says that more than 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7. More than 100 hostages are believed to remain captive in Gaza, including five Americans: Edan Alexander, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Omer Neutra and Keith Siegel.

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