Finally a Ceasefire?

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) endorsed a United States-backed ceasefire resolution on June 10 in the latest diplomatic effort to end eight months of Israel’s devastating military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The resolution, which calls for a comprehensive three-phase ceasefire deal, was adopted by 14 members of the UNSC, with abstention from Russia.

US President Joe Biden unveiled the peace proposal on May 31. Before that, the Biden administration had faced criticism for blocking at least three UNSC resolutions to end the war that has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians and injured about 85,000.

The US abstained from the last UNSC resolution, which called for a truce, passed in March.

But hours after the vote at UNSC, Israel carried out deadly attacks across the Palestinian enclave, raising questions about whether the latest resolution will lead to a permanent ceasefire.

While Hamas welcomed the cease-fire resolution passed in UNSC, Israel seems determined to continue the war in Gaza.

Hamas leaders want a permanent end to the war, something that Israel has rejected, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting that Israel will only end the war once it “destroys” Hamas and frees the remaining captives.

Israel’s representative to the UN, ReutShapir Ben-Naftaly, said the war would not end until Hamas’s capabilities were “dismantled”, raising questions about whether Israel would honour the latest resolution. In truth neither Hamas nor Israel has formally embraced the peace plan.

Without such a commitment, the resolution would be “very problematic. “Will Israelis agree to this and will they accept a permanent ceasefire?”

The resolution’s text says Israel has accepted Biden’s May 31 ceasefire proposal and “calls upon Hamas to also accept it”.

But Israeli leaders have lambasted Biden’s peace plan endorsed by the UN. Israeli website Ynetnews reported that the resolution’s wording does not reflect the deal Israel agreed on, which involved Hamas no longer governing Gaza. The website, quoting an unnamed senior Israeli official, said the resolution restricts Israeli freedom of action.

While voting one of the non-permanent member of UNSC Algeria said, “To us, Palestinian lives matter.”

The Switzerland representative echoed the sentiment, bringing up the Palestinian lives lost during Israel’s last major assault on Nuseirat. At least 274 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli raid on the refugee camp to free four captives. And Palestinians pleaded for an end to the war in Gaza. Maybe, Hamas hardliners are under pressure to make a deal though their supreme leader Sinwar thinks Palestinians are paying a ‘small price’ for liberation struggle.

“The catastrophic humanitarian situation is indescribable,” the representative of Japan said.

The UK representative asserted the importance of a rapid increase in humanitarian aid.

Russia abstained saying the wording of the resolution lacked “clarity” and that Moscow was not kept “in the loop”.

While the representative of China said the draft was “ambiguous” in some places, he voted in favour, voicing concern for the rampant deaths of Gaza’s civilians.

He added that China will work towards bringing Israel and Palestine “back to the right track” of the two-state solution.

The international community, including Israel’s main backer the US, support two independent states living side by side for Palestinians and Israelis. But Israel has continued to build Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian lands, which is the biggest obstacle to peace. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has boasted of stalling the Oslo Accords, which called for a freeze on settlements, considered illegal under international laws.

The resolution urges Israel and Hamas to take the steps needed for the implementation of a “permanent ceasefire”.

“The problem here is that the implementation of such a resolution depends on the agreement of Hamas and Israel. At the moment, none of them is saying they accept it fully”.

13-06-2024 [Contributed]

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Vol 57, No. 1, Jun 30 - Jul 6, 2024