Biden takes a u-turn over Gaza conflict, US pitches for temporary ceasefire in alternative draft at UNSC

Author:Vertika Kanaujia 2024-02-20 14:50 4

In a significant diplomatic shift, the Joe Biden administration has presented an alternative draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council, urging a temporary ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. It has also opposed a substantial ground offensive by Israel in Rafah. The draft, obtained by Reuters, marks a u-turn from the U.S.'s previous reluctance to use the term "ceasefire" in U.N. actions related to the conflict.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march after taking part in a rally demanding a ceasefire and the end of Israel attacks on Gaza at the borough of Queens in New York, U.S., February 19, 2024. (REUTERS)

The proposed resolution emphasizes the Security Council's support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, contingent on the release of all hostages, and calls for the unrestricted provision of humanitarian aid. It would see the Security Council "underscore its support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released, and calls for lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale."

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The United States does "not plan to rush" to a vote and intends to allow time for negotiations, a senior U.S. administration official told Reuters.

UN Resolution pitches for Gaza Ceasefire

The resolution highlights the potential harm to civilians and their displacement, including into neighboring countries, if a major ground offensive into Rafah proceeds under the current circumstances. Specifically addressing Israel's plans to storm Rafah, where a significant portion of Gaza's population has sought refuge, the resolution underscores the serious implications for regional peace and security. It contends that a major ground offensive should not proceed given the present conditions.

While the U.S. has historically shielded Israel from U.N. actions, this resolution signals a departure from that stance. International Crisis Group U.N. Director Richard Gowan suggests that the mere introduction of this text serves as a warning to Israel, signaling that it cannot rely on indefinite American diplomatic protection.

Draft resolution a warning shot for Israel

The draft also condemns calls by some Israeli government ministers for Jewish settlers to relocate to Gaza and rejects any attempts at demographic or territorial changes in Gaza that would violate international law. Additionally, it opposes actions that reduce Gaza's territory, including the establishment of buffer zones and the widespread, systematic demolition of civilian infrastructure.

The move follows the U.S.'s indication of a veto against an Algerian-drafted resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, citing concerns about potential impacts on ongoing talks involving the U.S., Egypt, Israel, and Qatar.

Israel's response to the U.S. draft resolution is yet to be officially conveyed. The U.S. draft, although not specifying diplomatic dynamics, reflects a nuanced approach and signals a departure from unconditional diplomatic protection for Israel at the U.N. The situation adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing international efforts to address the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Title:Biden takes a u-turn over Gaza conflict, US pitches for temporary ceasefire in alternative draft at UNSC

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