Israel-Hamas Live Updates: UN Security Council Passes Gaza Cease-Fire Resolution

Israel-Hamas Live Updates: UN Security Council Passes Gaza Cease-Fire Resolution

The United Nations Security Council on Monday passed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, breaking a five-month impasse during which the United States vetoed several calls for ending the war, while the humanitarian toll of Israel’s military offensive climbed higher.

The resolution passed with 14 votes in favor. The United States abstained, allowing the resolution to pass. The chamber broke into applause after the vote.

“Finally, finally, the Security Council is shouldering its responsibility,” said Algeria’s ambassador to the U.N., Amar Bendjama, the only Arab member of the Council. “It is finally responding to the calls of the international community.”

Israel immediately criticized the United States for allowing the resolution to pass. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel’s office called the move “a retreat from the consistent American position since the beginning of the war,” and said the U.S. abstention “harms the war effort as well as the effort to liberate the hostages.”

In response, Mr. Netanyahu said he would not send an Israeli delegation to Washington to hold high-level talks with U.S. officials on a planned operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah — a public rebuke to President Biden, who had asked for the meetings.

A State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, called that decision “a bit surprising and unfortunate.”

The United States did not vote for the resolution because it did not condemn Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel and because of other concerns about the wording, he said at a briefing in Washington. But other aspects of the resolution “were consistent with our long-term position — most importantly, that there should be a cease-fire and that there should be a release of hostages, which is what we understood also to be the government of Israel’s position.”

The breakthrough resolution, which was put forth by the 10 nonpermanent members of the Council, was being negotiated intensely until the last minute. The United States asked for a change in the text that replaced “permanent cease-fire” in the war between Israel and Hamas with “lasting cease-fire,” according to diplomats, and it wanted language calling for both sides to create conditions allowing a halt in fighting to be sustained.

It calls for a cease-fire for the rest of the holy month of Ramadan, which has two weeks remaining.

While Security Council resolutions are considered international law and carry significant political and legal weight, the Council does not have the means to enforce them. The Council can take punitive measures such as sanctions against violators, but even that could run into obstacles if a veto-holding member opposes the measure. Israel is currently in violation of a 2016 resolution that demands it stop expanding settlements in the West Bank.

Over the years, the United States has vetoed dozens of Security Council resolutions critical of Israel; it has rarely abstained, and when it does, analysts say, it marks a clear signal of Washington’s displeasure with Israeli action or policy.

In 2009, in the final days of the George W. Bush presidency, the United States abstained on a 2009 cease-fire resolution on a previous war in Gaza. Under President Barack Obama, it abstained on the 2016 resolution on West Bank settlements. And it abstained again on a resolution three months ago on humanitarian aid for Gaza.

“The crucial variable is that the Biden administration is obviously not happy with Israel’s military posture now, and allowing this resolution to pass was one relatively soft way to signal its concern,” said Richard Gowan, an expert on the United Nations at the International Crisis Group. “But the abstention is a not-too-coded hint to Netanyahu to rein in operations, above all over Rafah.

As images of starving children, carnage and vast destruction of civilian infrastructure from Gaza have circulated, global anger has mounted against Israel, along with pressure on the U.S. to reconsider its staunch support of Israel and use its leverage to end the conflict.

“When such atrocities are being committed in broad daylight against defenseless civilians, including women and children, the right thing to do, the only thing to do morally, legally and politically is to put an end to it,” said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations, to the Council.

The resolution adopted on Monday demands the unconditional and immediate release of all hostages, but it does not make its demands for a cease-fire conditional on hostage release — one of Israel’s stated objections.

Since the start of the war in October, pressure has been building on the Security Council to call for a cease-fire. Its members, particularly the United States, have been criticized sharply for failing to uphold peace and stability in the world.

The U.S. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the adopted resolution fell in line with diplomatic efforts by the United States, Qatar and Egypt to broker a cease-fire in exchange for the release of hostages held in Gaza. She said the U.S. abstained because it did not agree with everything in the resolution, including its failure to condemn Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks.

“A cease-fire of any duration must come with the release of hostages — this is the only path,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said.

The U.S. had vetoed three previous resolutions calling for a cease-fire, agreeing with Israel’s position that it had a right to defend itself and that a permanent cease-fire would benefit Hamas. Those vetoes infuriated many diplomats and U.N. officials as the civilian death toll in the war rose inexorably. The U.S. position also created rifts even with some of its staunch European allies, including France.

Russia and China then vetoed two alternative resolutions put forth by the United States, the most recent one last Friday, because, they said, those documents did not clearly demand a cease-fire.

It remained unclear whether Israel or Hamas would heed the resolution’s call for a halt in hostilities.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, accused the Council of being biased against Israel because it had taken no action on helping secure hostages held captive in Gaza. He said all Council members should have voted “against this shameful resolution.”

The resolution passed on Monday also calls for ensuring access to Gaza for humanitarian aid. It also requires both sides to “comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain.”

The Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel killed roughly 1,200 people, according to authorities there; about 250 were taken hostage, about half of whom have been released.

In Gaza, more than 32,000 people have been killed by the Israeli bombardment and ground offensive, a majority of them women and children, the Gazan Health Ministry says. Israel’s airstrikes have also laid waste to vast areas of Gaza.

The U.S.-backed resolution that failed on Friday also condemned Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack and called for U.N. member states to restrict funding to the Palestinian armed group. The new resolution is far more concise. It deplores “all attacks against civilians” and “all acts of terrorism,” specifically singling out the taking of hostages.

Michael Crowley contributed reporting.