UPDATING LIVE: Security Council due to hold emergency vote demanding Gaza ceasefire

UPDATING LIVE: Security Council due to hold emergency vote demanding Gaza ceasefire

The UN Security Council is poised to convene an emergency meeting at 10am (New York time) on Monday to take up a fresh draft resolution in a bid to stop the war and humanitarian suffering in Gaza on the heels of a United States-proposed text that China and Russia vetoed on Friday. Follow live coverage here.

10:25 AM

The meeting has finally got underway. Ambassador Yamazaki has led a minute's silence in honour of those who died in the terrorist attack in Moscow on Friday.

10:13 AM

These are unusual scenes going on now in the Chamber. The Russian Ambassador is in a large huddle with many other top diplomats, including the Palestinian Observer and the Ambassador for Malta. There are clearly negotiations still going on over the draft that's due to be voted on.

Only a few of the ambassadors are already at the table. It looks like we won't see the gavel come down for a while yet.

10:07 AM

Japan holds the presidency of the Security Council for March. Ambassador Kazuyuki Yamazaki will get the meeting underway soon but delegations are still filing into the Council Chamber, some huddled together in animated discussion. 

09:30 AM - Disagreement in the Council has seen several rounds of drafts quashed by one or more of its five veto-wielding permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) since the war began in October following the Hamas-led terror attacks on southern Israel.

The current draft that ambassadors will consider around the iconic horseshoe table in the Security Council Chamber this morning is only four operative paragraphs long and was prepared by its non-permanent members.

Three main demands: Ceasefire, return hostages, let aid into Gaza

The resolution is a bare-bones call for a ceasefire during the month of Ramadan, which began on 11 March. It also demands the return of about 130 hostages seized in Israel and held in Gaza and emphasizes the urgent need to allow ample lifesaving aid to reach a starving population in the besieged enclave.

The demand to end hostilities has so far eluded the Council following the Israeli forces’ invasion of Gaza in October after Hamas attacks left almost 1,200 dead and 240 taken hostage.

Since then, Israel’s daily bombardment alongside its near total blockade of water, electricity and lifesaving aid has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza,  according to the health ministry there, where a recent UN-backed report showed an imminent famine unfolding.

Growing calls to end the war

Missile attacks on Gaza are continuing.
© UNICEF/Eyad El Baba
Missile attacks on Gaza are continuing.

While a week-long ceasefire in November saw an exchange of hostages held in Gaza for Palestinians detained in Israel, fighting resumed and has only escalated, as the death toll and malnutrition in Gaza continues to soar along with ever louder calls to end the war and rapidly address the stark humanitarian suffering.

Previous rejected drafts contained basically the same provisions as this new one, as did resolutions 2712 and 2720 that were adopted in late 2023, but points of contention persist among the membership while calls continue to demand that the 15-member Council take a stronger stand to end the conflict.

Read our explainer on what happens when the Security Council deadlocks here, and follow our coverage as the meeting unfolds.

What’s the new draft resolution calling for?

  • The Council would demand “an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire
  • It would also demand “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs” and “that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain”
  • Other provisions would have the Council emphasize “the urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to and reinforce the protection of civilians in the entire Gaza Strip.
  • In this regard, the draft would have the Council reiterate its demand for the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale, in line with international humanitarian law as well as resolutions 2712 (2023) and 2720 (2023).

Here are HIGHLIGHTS from the Council’s meeting on Friday:

  • A US-proposed draft to end the war in Gaza was vetoed by permanent Council members China and Russia, in a vote of 11 favour to three against (Algeria, China, Russia) and one abstention (Guyana)
  • Several ambassadors voiced their support for a new draft proposed by the “E-10” group of non-permanent Council members, which calls for an immediate ceasefire
  • The vetoed draft would have made imperative an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza, with an “urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance” to all civilians and lifting “all barriers” to delivering aid
  • Council members disagreed over elements of the draft, and some highlighted glaring exclusions despite having raised multiple concerns with the US during negotiations
  • Ambassadors largely supported swift action to bring food and lifesaving aid at scale into Gaza, where concerns of famine grew as Israel continues to block and slow walk shipments into the besieged enclave
  • Some Council members called for pursuing the two-State solution to the ongoing conflict
  • Israel’s ambassador was invited to speak, calling the draft’s failure to pass and condemn Hamas “a stain that will never be forgotten”

More to come…

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