UN security council endorses US-backed hostages-for-ceasefire Gaza deal

The UN security council has adopted a resolution calling for Hamas to agree to a three-phase hostage-for-ceasefire proposal outlined by Joe Biden, in a rare show of consensus by major powers.

Fourteen council members voted for the resolution and only Russia abstained on the US-drafted resolution which calls for an initial exchange of elderly, sick or women hostages for Palestinian detainees held by Israel in the course of an initial six-week ceasefire. The ceasefire would evolve into a permanent end to hostilities and the release of all hostages through intensive discussions between the two parties. A third phase would involve the launch of a major reconstruction effort.

The US has been seeking UN endorsement for the proposal since it was unveiled by Biden on 31 May. It won the support of the Palestinian mission, with a clause saying that an initial six-week ceasefire would be extended as long as talks continued over a second phase.

The resolution said the US, Qatar and Egypt would “work to ensure negotiations keep going until all the agreements are reached and phase two is able to begin”.

Palestinian support made it much harder diplomatically for Russia or China to veto it.

The text stated that Israel had already accepted the ceasefire terms, though that claim is increasingly in question, as the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has made a string of sceptical comments on it.

The resignation over the weekend of a centrist minister, Benny Gantz, has left Netanyahu even more dependent on far-right members of his coalition, who adamantly oppose the deal.

Hamas has yet to give a formal response to the ceasefire proposal. The unusual show of relative unity by a deeply divided security council, helps put pressure on both parties to strike an agreement, though both have shown themselves far more influenced by local constituencies and the personal interests of leaders, than by international public opinion.

Prospects for a hostage and ceasefire deal were significantly complicated by an Israeli raid in Gaza on Saturday to rescue four hostages, which killed 274 Palestinians.

One of the late changes made to the US draft resolution was designed to make it more palatable to Israel. It said the security council rejected any attempt to change the demographic or the geographical boundaries of Gaza, but it omits wording from the earlier version which specifically rejected the creation of a buffer zone around the coastal strip.

More details soon…

The Guardian

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