Security Council Poised To Vote On Gaza Resolution Calling For Urgent, Safe And Unhindered Flow Of Aid
21 December 2023
After intense negotiations all week behind closed doors at the 15-member Security Council, ambassadors continued consultations into Thursday evening over the latest version of a draft resolution penned by the United Arab Emirates which reportedly calls for urgent steps to allow safe and unhindered delivery of aid to stricken civilians in the Gaza Strip. The United States said it would support the latest draft if the text remained the same, with a vote now anticipated on Friday.
The US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield emerged from the closed door meeting telling reporters that after working hard over the past week, her country was ready to vote on a draft resolution, if compromises made remained in the latest draft.
Ambassadors are still locked in consultations over the latest draft resolution and it is looking unlikely that they will head into the chamber tonight.
Council members are in closed consultations on the draft resolution.
It's been a day of intense activity in and around the Security Council at UN Headquarters but it does now look as if ambassadors are going to go into consultations at the top of the hour, to try and bring the United States on board with a further amended draft which it is hoped will provide new impetus to boost the flow and speed of lifesaving aid to Gazans.
The last draft to go up for a vote was vetoed by the US on 8 December, which was quickly followed by action in the UN General Assembly four days later, when Member States voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, through a non-binding resolution.
The Emergency Special Session of the Assembly resumed and then adjourned on Wednesday with dozens of countries making statements on the crisis.
Avoiding another veto
The Council has been negotiating throughout the week to find language which will avoid a further US veto, having first introduced a draft which called for a “cessation of hostilities”, which now calls for a “suspension” of fighting, to vastly increase access for lifesaving aid.
The US argued on Tuesday and in previous deadlocked sessions that any resolution must condemn the Hamas extremist group’s terror attacks of 7 October which sparked this deadly and unprecedented surge in the Palestine-Israel conflict, and which led to around 1,200 deaths in southern Israel and the capture of more than 200 hostages by extremists, dozens of whom remain captive in Gaza.
Some countries critical of Israel’s offensive have argued in response that any resolution condemning Hamas, must also condemn the Israeli occupation and the thousands of civilian deaths resulting from Israel’s military action since 7 October.
According to media reports, a further sticking point for diplomats negotiating the draft resolution has been the setting up of a UN monitoring mechanism which would be responsible for assessing the effectiveness of aid delivery at scale, independent of either Israeli or Hamas authorities in Gaza.
Situation in Gaza
Latest casualty figures from authorities in Gaza report around 20,000 civilian deaths since the Israeli retaliatory bombardment and offensive began, most of them women and children.
On Tuesday as the Council met to discuss the crisis in the Middle East in a scheduled debate, the UN Special Envoy for the peace process said the whole humanitarian system was “on the brink” of collapse, and also voiced deep concern at the deteriorating situation for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
“I reiterate that security forces must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when it is strictly unavoidable to protect life,” Tor Wennesland stressed.