On Wednesday, the UN Security Council approved a draft resolution urging immediate and prolonged humanitarian pauses and the creation of aid corridors across the Gaza Strip.
They should remain in place for a sufficient number of days so that aid is able to reach civilians who need it, the council said, especially children, who are mentioned in almost every paragraph of the resolution.
The vote marked the first time council members have managed to adopt a resolution related to the war in Gaza.
The text of the resolution, proposed by Malta and seen by Arab News, also calls for the release of all hostages and for all sides to refrain from depriving Gazan civilians of the basic goods and services that are critical to their survival.
It further demands the urgent implementation of recovery efforts to find those trapped under rubble of damaged and destroyed buildings. Throughout the resolution, the council also rejected the forced displacement of Palestinians.
Twelve of the 15 council members voted in favor of the resolution, with US, UK and Russia abstaining.
Before the vote, Russia’s representative, Vassily Nebenzia, proposed an amendment calling for “an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to the cessation of hostilities.” This was voted down by the council, with only five members voting for it, including the UAE. The US voted against it and the nine remaining members abstained.
The US and Russia have both accused each other of blocking attempts to agree on action related to the conflict in Gaza. The council, the UN body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, failed to adopt four previous draft resolutions, exposing the bitter divisions between members.
The US has been adamant about rejecting any language that calls for a ceasefire, does not assert what Washington describes as “Israel’s right to self-defense,” or fails to unequivocally condemn Hamas for its actions.
Before the vote, Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s permanent representative to the UN, warned that to the outside world the Security Council appears “indifferent to carnage and dismissive of the suffering.” She added that “the protection of children has been the North Star that has guided this council’s approach on (the Maltese) draft.”
She urged the council not to underestimate the significance of the draft resolution for “the children and other Palestinians sheltering from the hostilities, for the Israeli children and others still held hostage, and for UN humanitarian and medical workers who are risking their lives to help alleviate the enormous humanitarian suffering on the ground.”
The resolution means providing enough time and space for search and rescue operations to save those children who are buried under the rubble, Nusseibeh said, including 1,500 reported missing in the territory.
“It means that fuel, food, water, medicine and other essential goods can be delivered at scale,” she added. “It means that sick and injured children can be evacuated. These extended pauses will also help reach those held hostage, particularly children, whose release this resolution calls for unconditionally.”
The US representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who abstained from the vote, blamed Russia and China for the council’s paralysis over the war in Gaza, and said she was “horrified” that “some council members” still cannot bring themselves to condemn Hamas.
“Hamas set this conflict in motion,” she said as she repeated the accusation that the group was using civilians as human shields.
She reiterated that the US cannot support any resolution text that does not unequivocally condemn Hamas and assert “Israel’s right to self-defense.”
But she added that the actions of Hamas do not lessen the responsibility of Israel to protect the lives of innocent civilians.