MIL-OSI United Nations: Adopting Resolution 2735 (2024) with 14 Votes in Favour, Russian Federation Abstaining, Security Council Welcomes New Gaza Ceasefire Proposal, Urges Full Implementation

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Source: United Nations 4

Note:  Full coverage of today’s meeting of the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, will be available following its conclusion.

THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION

Explanation of Position Before Vote

The representative of the United States, speaking before the vote, said that “the last eight months had been nothing short but devastating” — for Israelis who lost loved ones on 7 October, when Hamas set this conflict into motion by carrying out acts of unthinkable violence, and for Israelis and people from over 16 other countries whose loved ones are still being held hostage by Hamas.  The past eight months have also been devastating for Palestinian civilians in Gaza; nearly 2 million have had to flee from one place to another in search of safety, which has been elusive.  Children in Gaza have been traumatized by seeing their family members killed.  Calling on Israel “to do everything possible to protect civilians”, she said, however, that “Hamas leaders are those who put civilians at risk”. 

Amid the worsening humanitarian situation, “Palestinian civilians are living through sheer hell by no fault of their own”, she said, with “families unsure what the next day holds and millions grappling with the uncertainty of what will be left when they are allowed to return home”.  Parents are trying to find food for their families; children are forced to stop their education, and elderly persons no longer have access to medicine. 

“The fighting must end in a sustainable way,” she said, calling for an immediate ceasefire with the release of hostages and stressing that a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas is “the only way to bring about a durable end to this war”.  She said Hamas has failed to accept any agreement, while Israel has agreed to a comprehensive deal on the table which is “nearly identical to Hamas’ own proposal” — it would bring hostages home, ensure Israel’s security, enable a surge in humanitarian relief, and set the stage for a political settlement that provides a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.  “Now we are all waiting for Hamas to agree to the ceasefire deal it claims to want, but we cannot allow to wait and wait,” she stated, noting that “with every passing day, needless suffering continues”. 

Detailing the text, she said the first phase of this agreement would last for six weeks and include an immediate 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; the exchange of Palestinian prisoners; the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the populated areas of Gaza; the return of Palestinian civilians to their homes and neighbourhoods in all areas of Gaza; and the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance in Gaza.  The proposal says that if negotiations take longer than six weeks in phase one, the ceasefire will continue “as long as negotiations continue”.  Underscoring that “Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out another 7 October,” she reiterated Washington D.C.’s commitment to Israel’s self-defence.  She also noted that the text rejects any demographic or territorial changes in Gaza, including any actions that reduce its territory.

Vote

The Council then adopted resolution 2735 (2024) with a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation).

Explanations of Position after Vote

Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United States observed:  “Today, this Council sent a clear message to Hamas – accept the ceasefire deal on the table.”  Israel has already agreed, she added, underscoring that — if Hamas does the same — “the fighting can stop today”.  Now, the international community is united behind a deal that will save lives, help civilians in Gaza start to rebuild and heal, reunite hostages with their families, lead to a more secure Israel and unlock the possibility of more progress.  Noting that Egypt and Qatar have assured her country that they will help ensure that Hamas engages constructively, she said that “the United States will help ensure that Israel lives up to its obligations as well, assuming Hamas accepts the deal”. Over the past eight months, the Council has often been divided and the world has taken notice with understandable frustration.  However, there is another side to this story — for the fourth time, the Council has said that the only way to end the cycle of violence and build durable peace is through political settlement.  “Today, we voted for peace,” she stressed.

The representative of Algeria said that his thoughts are with the 37,000 Palestinians who have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces over the past eight months.  “These martyrs for us are alive with their Lord, watching over us from heaven,” he said.  He acknowledged that Algerians deeply feel the suffering of the Palestinians and, with their own history of struggle against occupation, they understand and support the Palestinians’ legitimate and just demands.  Noting that as a free and dignified people, Palestinians will never accept living under occupation and will never abdicate their fight for liberation, he added:  “To us, Palestinian lives matter”.

While the resolution is not perfect, it offers a glimmer of hope, he said, stressing:  “We voted for this text to give diplomacy a chance.”  Guided by solidarity with the Palestinian people, Algeria will do its part in the international reconstruction effort.  He reaffirmed Algeria’s commitment to accountability for those killed in Nuseirat and all occupied Palestinian territories.  “No one will be immune.  None will be above the law,” he stressed.  If the International Court of Justice’s orders are not endorsed, a new genocide “looms on the horizon”, he said, underscoring:  “Therefore, our objective must be to end the occupation.”

The representative of the United Kingdom, whose delegation voted in favour, cited the resolution as “an important step” in bringing about an end to the conflict that has raged since the 7 October attacks. The situation in Gaza is catastrophic, and the suffering has gone on far too long.  London has long called for the deal on the table which is “the best way” to get remaining hostages out, bring about an immediate ceasefire leading to a permanent end to hostilities, and enable a significant scaling up of much-needed humanitarian aid.  She called on Hamas to accept the deal and end the suffering of the Palestinian people and the hostages who remain in detention.  Further, she called for the rapid increase of humanitarian aid, stressing that “now — more than ever — is the time for diplomacy, now is the time for peace”.

The representative of Malta noted her country’s consistent calls for a ceasefire, the release of all hostages and a comprehensive response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  “We fully support all initiatives that bring us closer to these imperatives,” she emphasized.  While welcoming the 8 June news that four hostages were successfully rescued by Israeli forces, she stated that images from that operation “are truly horrifying”.  And those images are not isolated, she added; rather, they are “emblematic of the scale of suffering in Gaza”.  She therefore stressed that all parties must respect international humanitarian law. Meanwhile, the ceasefire proposal will be essential to addressing deepening humanitarian concerns; lead to the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip; and create the space to mount an international reconstruction effort there.  Most importantly, it will put both parties on the path towards reviving a credible political process for lasting, sustainable peace anchored in a two-State solution.

The representative of Switzerland, noting that she supported the draft text, said:  “This plan currently represents the best chance for a way out of the appalling violence raging in the Middle East.”  However, she expressed regret that despite the request of several delegations, the call for respecting international humanitarian law and human rights law — which was included in previous resolutions — “did not find a place” in the text voted in today.  “We are relieved that four hostages have — after many months — been reunited with their families,” she continued, while expressing concern over the very high number of Palestinian casualties during the rescue operation in Nuseirat. Reiterating her support for the negotiations led by Egypt, Qatar and the United States, she called on Israel and Hamas to conclude and implement this agreement as soon as possible.

The representative of Japan, whose delegation voted in favour, underscored that “the devastating conflict in Gaza has gone on for far too long,” with too much suffering and loss of innocent life.  “The catastrophic humanitarian situation is indescribable,” while many hostages are still being held in appalling conditions.  Commending the vigorous diplomatic efforts led by the United States, Egypt and Qatar, and the three-stage proposal outlined by President Biden, he said that — if Hamas accepts the deal and both parties commit themselves to negotiations — it will finally bring about the long-awaited ceasefire and release of hostages.  “Today, the Security Council has upheld its responsibility to maintain international peace and security by expressing our strong desire to see the end of the vicious cycle of violence,” he stated, adding:  “The people of Gaza and the hostages still held by Hamas are counting on us.”

The representative of Slovenia noted that international law prohibits hostage-taking, the denial of humanitarian access to civilians and attacks against humanitarian workers.  Further, it includes displaced persons’ right to voluntary return.  “My point, colleagues, is that many of the elements of this deal should already be taking place,” she emphasized — which also should have been the case for the Council’s previous resolutions and the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures.  Underscoring that “the suffering in Gaza must end”, she said that military operations to free hostages that leave hundreds of civilians killed and injured — like the one conducted on 8 June — “cannot be the new normal”.  Photos of children dying of malnutrition “will go down in history as one of the conflicts this Council should have prevented”, she stressed.  Only two sovereign and equal States can make peace happen, she added, pointing to this as the reason for her country’s recent recognition of Palestine as an independent, sovereign State.

The representative of China, noting that the draft text is still “ambiguous in many aspects”, said that his delegation has “valid concerns” whether the parties concerned will accept the ceasefire proposal and whether the three-phase arrangements can be carried out smoothly. “Our understanding is that, as long as a ceasefire is achieved, no more fighting will be launched again,” he said, observing that this has been the most pressing aspiration of Gaza civilians. From the perspective of the urgent need to stop more killings and alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe, China voted in favour.  Underscoring that all Council resolutions are legally binding, he expressed hope that the sponsor will work “sincerely” in an impartial matter to push for an immediate realization of a permanent ceasefire.  China will work towards bringing the Israeli-Palestinian question “back to the right track” of the two-State solution, he added.

The representative of Guyana said that 247 days have passed since Hamas’ horrific attacks and since Israel launched a war on Gaza “unprecedented in scale and impact”.  The humanitarian situation is catastrophic and “Gaza has been made an abyss of destruction,” she observed, adding that — despite the adoption of the resolution calling for the protection of civilians and a ceasefire — the war has persisted.  Her country voted in favour of the draft as it represents a valuable contribution towards achieving the end of the war and bringing relief to civilians suffering in Gaza and the Israeli hostages and their families.  Nevertheless, she emphasized that the Council must redouble its efforts towards the urgent achievement of a ceasefire and the release of all hostages in Gaza.

The representative of Ecuador said that his country, “once again, voted in favour of peace”.  Now, both parties must accept the proposal, which will put into effect an immediate ceasefire, allow for the release of hostages and alleviate the terrible humanitarian situation faced by civilians in Gaza.  Further, implementing all proposed phases will facilitate the beginning of a reconstruction plan in Gaza and reject any attempts at demographic or territorial change in the Strip.  Stressing that the proposal be seized to halt the spiral of violence and “ensure that this is the last war of this long conflict”, he also urged moving towards the existence of two States, Palestine and Israel, on the basis of 1967 borders and relevant resolutions.

The representative of Sierra Leone said he voted in favour of the resolution, adding that the Security Council’s actions should complement ongoing diplomatic efforts.  While his delegation does not agree with all the elements in the text, he urged Israel and Hamas to seize this opportunity to meaningfully engage and commit to an agreement that will lead to a ceasefire, the release of hostages and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.  To avoid future catastrophes and put an end to this “brutal conflict”, Sierra Leone reiterates the need for parties to the conflict to respect and implement all relevant Council resolutions.  He expressed hope that the parties to the conflict will approach the negotiating table with empathy, flexibility and consideration of the conflict’s impact on women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups, who since 7 October 2023 have been victims of their actions.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that from the very outset of the military escalation, Moscow has advocated for a permanent ceasefire.  On the adopted resolution, he said that “its sponsors did not keep the Council in the loop of the agreement’s details”.  Noting that “there was no negotiation process”, he also pointed out that — even though Hamas is called upon to accept this so-called deal — there is no clarity regarding official agreement from Israel.  In this regard, he recalled numerous statements by Israel that “it will continue in its war until Hamas is defeated”.  The Council should not sign up to agreements with vague parameters and without a clear understanding of the parties’ position, he asserted.  Also, the adoption of yet another document — the content of which raises questions — undermines the Council’s authority as the main body for the maintenance of international peace and security.  “We do not wish to block the resolution as the Arab world supports it,” he said.  However, the questions raised by Moscow require a response.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity to welcome diplomatic efforts by the United States, Egypt and Qatar to achieve an immediate ceasefire and the release of hostages.  “The recent airstrikes on refugee camps and the massive operation to rescue hostages, resulting in a large number of civilian casualties, once again exemplify the imperative of finalizing the deal as soon as possible,” he said. Underscoring that “more hesitation means more fatalities”, he expressed hope that today’s adoption will press both parties — notably Hamas — to accept and implement the terms of the proposal. Israel must also stay true to its word. “No other considerations should be prioritized beyond the lives of innocent people,” he stressed, expressing hope that the resolution can lead to “a concrete outcome on the ground” — including a massive expansion of humanitarian aid.

The representative of Israel said that her country’s goals have been very clear since Hamas’ invasion on 7 October:  to bring hostages back home and to dismantle that terrorist group’s capabilities.  “Once these goals are met, the war will end,” she stressed, noting that if Hamas released hostages and turned themselves in “not one more shot needs to be fired”.  However, 120 hostages are still being held by Hamas, which keeps advancing their goal of “murdering every Israeli”.  It is the “genocidal jihadists who started this war” who are preventing the war from ending, she observed, emphasizing that pressure must be applied on Hamas and “blame must be placed where it belongs”.  Yet, that terrorist group does not care for what the Council has to say because it has never been held responsible.  She stated that the pressure on the terrorists should have begun long ago, but “it’s still not too late”.

As a result of a heroic operation, the Israel Defense Forces rescued four hostages, who were held in residential buildings by Palestinian families.  While the hostages were guarded by terrorists, Gazan civilians were their jailors, she said, adding that those “so-called innocent civilians” were not only cooperating with terrorists, but were complicit with their heinous crimes.  “Israel regrets any harm to civilians, but it must be emphasized that Palestinians who cooperate with Hamas and take part in their war crimes are not uninvolved,” she said.  While the loss of life is tragic, if States do not put blame on Hamas, they are advancing its strategy.  “We will continue until all hostages are returned and until Hamas’ military and governing capabilities are dismantled,” she underscored, adding that Israel will not engage in meaningless negotiations, which Hamas can stall as a way to exploit.  

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