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US pushes for UN to support temporary Gaza ceasefire, oppose Rafah assault

A draft Security Council Resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, could be put to a vote today and draw a US veto in the process. Such is the dilemma facing the text’s lead author, Algeria, which signalled its intentions soon after the International Court of Justice ordered provisional measures on Israel at the end of January.

But, Washington’s envoy, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has been steadfast in her view that any action in the council would undermine efforts to secure a new hostage deal between Israel and Hamas.

In a weekend statement that essentially clarified that the Algerian draft text enjoyed no prospect of success, Thomas-Greenfield said the United States had been working tirelessly on securing a new hostage deal that would bring a period of calm to Gaza for at least six weeks and from which they could then take time and the steps to build a more enduring peace.

In that regard, she indicated that the draft resolution would not achieve those outcomes and that the United States did not support action on it, stating clearly that were it to come up for a vote as drafted, it would not be adopted.

On February 2, she said: “What we’re saying about the resolution is it’s not timely. We have two resolutions right now that we’re working to implement that deal with the humanitarian situation. It calls for a cessation of hostilities. They have given… the last resolution gave the special coordinator (Sigrid Kaag) a mandate to move forward on addressing some of these issues. So we don’t see that this resolution adds anything to what we already have, but we worry that the resolution will hurt what we’re doing on the ground right now.”

The expected vote today comes amid growing concern about a planned Israeli military assault on Rafah, where over 1.2 million Palestinians are sheltering – with nowhere to go.

As the Arab Group continues to push for the Council to act, its Chair, Tunisian Ambassador Tarek Ladeb said: “We reaffirmed the three main demands of the Arab group, it’s on an immediate ceasefire and unhindered humanitarian assistance and a prevention of any plan of transfer of the Palestinians from their land.

And now we are about the new looming threat that was ordered by the Prime Minister of Israel to undertake a military operation in Rafah, where about 1.5 million Palestinians are facing a very disastrous humanitarian situation. So we insisted and we reiterated our position to prevent this catastrophic scenario. And to see the international community and the Security Council shoulder their responsibility to prevent this deterioration of the situation.”

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour indicated they have massive support for the draft in the Council but when confronted by US opposition to the text said: “The internal business of the United States is their business.

We believe that it is high time now for the Security Council to decide on a humanitarian ceasefire resolution after 131 days and after two resolutions adopted in the Security Council and two in the General Assembly and a number of draft resolutions failed in the Security Council. I think the space is narrowing for those who are continuing to ask for more time. We gave them that time. That discussion is almost over. The action is needed and we hope that the action will take place as quickly as possible.”

In her statement, Thomas-Greenfield said the US would continue to engage in the diplomacy necessary to get a hostage deal over the finish line and be candid with Israel and regional leaders regarding Washington’s expectations for the protection of the more than one million civilians in Rafah.

She urged other parties to give the process the best odds of succeeding, rather than push measures that put such an agreement in jeopardy as the US continues to render the Council a secondary venue in the search for peace in Gaza as pressure continues to build on the critical need for progress in a 4-month conflict that has claimed almost 30 000 Palestinian lives to date.

Source: eNCA

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