UN postpones voting on Gaza ceasefire resolution due to objections from the US regarding the wording of the resolution.

The United States has stated that it cannot endorse a mention of a ‘cessation of hostilities’, but may consider supporting a request for a ‘suspension of hostilities’.

The United Nations Security Council has delayed the voting on a resolution calling for a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza in order to give diplomats more time to address US concerns about the wording of the draft resolution.

The vote, originally scheduled for Monday in New York, was postponed as the US opposed the use of the term “cessation of hostilities”, but indicated a possibility of accepting a “suspension of hostilities”.

The Arab countries involved in the negotiations expressed optimism upon seeing that the White House appeared to be seeking alternative language that it could support, rather than outright vetoing resolutions. This marks a departure from the US position taken on the call for a humanitarian pause on October 18 and an urgent humanitarian ceasefire on December 9.

Divisions within the US administration have been growing, with some officials suggesting that the US fails to fully understand the extent of dissatisfaction in the Global South regarding perceived American hypocrisy in condemning Russian war crimes in Ukraine, while finding numerous justifications for the large-scale killings of Palestinians in Gaza.

A number of US diplomats have visited Jerusalem in an effort to encourage the Israeli government to adopt different military strategies, but with limited success. If the US were to support a suspension of hostilities at the UN, it would be a clear indication of the country’s frustration with the Israeli government.

The US has previously rejected resolutions calling for a cessation of hostilities in the 15-member Security Council due to the absence of explicit criticism towards Hamas for its killing of over 1,000 Israelis, including many women and children, on October 7. The latest draft presented by the United Arab Emirates simply condemns all acts of terrorism and demands the unconditional release of all hostages.

Pressure has been mounting on the US following the UN General Assembly’s vote on December 12, with 153 countries in favor, 10 against, and 23 abstentions, calling for an urgent cessation of hostilities. Unlike in the Security Council, permanent members cannot exercise their veto power in General Assembly votes.

However, General Assembly votes are expressions of world opinion and do not carry the legal weight associated with Security Council resolutions. In practice, many resolutions are disregarded.

The US’s sense of isolation at the General Assembly mirrors the isolation Russia faced at the assembly last year due to the invasion of Ukraine.

In an attempt to win the support of the British Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, the draft resolution prepared on Monday included a call for a sustainable ceasefire, aligning with the wording used in a joint article penned by Cameron and his German counterpart over the weekend. This choice of wording aimed to facilitate the UK’s transition from abstention, its previous position in Security Council debates, to a positive vote in favor of the resolution.

The UK has, on occasions related to the Middle East, voted in favor of resolutions initially opposed by the US. This was notably the case in January 2009 when Gordon Brown instructed the UK envoy to back a UN ceasefire resolution after 13 days of conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The UK’s stance helped push the US to change its position from opposition to abstention.

A UN call for a suspension of hostilities, in conjunction with other elements of the resolution, would put pressure on Israel to permit significant humanitarian aid into Gaza through various means of transport. Additionally, a monitoring mechanism would be established to overcome obstacles in delivering aid to Gaza.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *