UN Security Council vote on humanitarian ceasefire delayed as Arab ministers meet U.S. Secretary of State

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9th December 2023 – (United Nations) The UN Security Council faced a delay in voting on a draft resolution demanding a humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. The vote was postponed for several hours on Friday (8th December) to allow for a planned meeting between Arab ministers and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Originally scheduled for Friday morning, the vote was deferred at the request of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which presented the draft resolution with the backing of Arab and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation states.

For a resolution to be adopted, it requires a minimum of nine votes in favour and no vetoes from any of the five permanent members: the United States, Russia, China, France, or Britain. The US has expressed its opposition to further action by the council at this time.

The revised timeline for the vote is set for 5.30 pm, immediately following Blinken’s meeting with ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey in Washington.

Both the United States and Israel are against a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict as they believe it would primarily benefit the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Instead, Washington supports temporary pauses in fighting to safeguard civilians and facilitate the release of hostages taken by Hamas during a deadly attack on Israel on 7th October.

Arab states have renewed their push for a ceasefire following a rare move by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who formally alerted the Security Council about the global threat posed by the war. Guterres, a staunch advocate for a humanitarian ceasefire, was scheduled to brief the council on Friday.

The U.S. proposed significant amendments to the UAE-drafted text, which included a condemnation of “the terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, including those on 7th October, 2023.” However, these amendments were not included in the text up for vote on Friday.

The draft resolution was modified to emphasize the necessity of protecting both the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations in accordance with international humanitarian law. It also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

Israel claims that 1,200 individuals were killed and 240 taken hostage during the 7th October attack by Hamas. In response, Israel has primarily targeted Hamas in Gaza, conducting aerial bombardments, imposing a blockade, and launching a ground offensive.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the number of casualties stands at 17,170, with the vast majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants displaced from their homes.