U.N. Security Council Passes U.S.-Backed Cease-Fire Deal: Gaza War Live Updates

The U.N. Security Council on Monday adopted a U.S.-backed cease-fire plan for the Gaza Strip after Russia opted not to block it, adding extra heft to a growing international push for an end to the fighting.

Fourteen of the 15 Council members voted in favor, with Russia — which has veto power — abstaining.

In passing the resolution, the Council delivered a diplomatic victory to Washington, which had vetoed three previous cease-fire resolutions before the Council.

“The only way to end this cycle of violence and build a durable peace is through a political settlement,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said that the United States would work to make sure that Israel agreed to the deal and that Qatar and Egypt would work to bring Hamas to the negotiating table.

“Colleagues, today we voted for peace,” she said.

The resolution laid out a three-phase plan that begins with an immediate cease-fire, the release of all hostages in exchange for Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, the return of displaced Gazans to their homes and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

The second phase calls for a permanent cease-fire with the agreement of both parties, and the third phase would consist of a multiyear reconstruction plan for Gaza and return of the remains of deceased hostages.

“The proposal says if the negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the cease-fire will still continue as long as negotiations continue,” the resolution said. It also rejected “any attempt at demographic or territorial change in the Gaza Strip, including any actions that reduce the territory of Gaza.”

Israel’s representative to the U.N., Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly, did not say that Israel had accepted the terms, but said her country’s goals in the war had not changed and that it would use military operations to free hostages as it did just two days ago.

“We will continue until all of the hostages are returned and Hamas’s military capabilities are dismantled,” Ms. Shapir Ben-Naftaly told the Council. She said if Hamas leaders freed all hostages and turned themselves in, “not one shot would be fired.”

In a statement, Hamas said it “welcomes what is included in the Security Council resolution that affirmed the permanent cease-fire in Gaza, the complete withdrawal, the prisoners’ exchange, the reconstruction, the return of the displaced to their areas of residence, the rejection of any demographic change or reduction in the area of the Gaza Strip, and the delivery of needed aid to our people in the Strip.”

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said that the Council remained in the dark about the details of the U.S.’s agreement with Israel and had “essentially voted for a cat in the bag.”

But Mr. Nebenzya said Russia had decided to abstain because the resolution had widespread support by Arab countries.

The American Mission to the United Nations began drafting the resolution and negotiating over it in the days after President Biden announced on May 31 that Israel had put forth a cease-fire deal. The resolution follows the same framework that Mr. Biden set out, according to Nate Evans, the spokesman for the U.S. mission.

“This deal is how we will achieve the cease-fire with the release of hostages,” said Mr. Evans. “Israel has accepted the deal. Now it’s time for Hamas to do it.”

Protesters in Tel Aviv demanding the immediate release of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza, on Monday.Credit…Marko Djurica/Reuters

Israeli officials have not publicly endorsed the cease-fire plan, and they have not said whether they would abide by the deal if Hamas accepts it. A day after Mr. Biden’s announcement, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that appeared to undercut the proposal, calling a permanent cease-fire a “nonstarter.”

Diplomats said that during negotiations, the United States asked Security Council members to take its word that Israel was on board, and refused to incorporate clear language in the text that Israel accept the deal.

The draft resolution states only that Israel has accepted the U.S. proposal, but it “calls” for Hamas to accept the deal. Russia and China and Algeria, the only Arab member of the Security Council, had said in back-channel negotiations that the text appeared too lopsided in favor of Israel.

Ever since the war started eight months ago, the Security Council has been in a deadlock over finding a way to end the conflict and fulfill its mandate to uphold international peace and stability.

China, which vetoed a cease-fire resolution put forth by the United States in March because it said the proposal did not go far enough, said that it had voted in favor of this one because it wants to see the fighting end and the hostages released.

Its ambassador to the U.N., Fu Cong, said China supported it even though the resolution was “ambiguous in many aspects.”

“We still have valid concerns on whether the parties concerned will accept the terms of the cease-fire and whether the arrangement can be carried out smoothly,” he said.

The United States has vetoed three resolutions calling for a cease-fire. In March, after the U.S. abstained, the Council passed a resolution calling for a humanitarian cease-fire and more desperately needed aid to be allowed into Gaza during Ramadan.

Neither of the parties has abided by that resolution.

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