Britain Breaks With United States On Gaza Ceasefire Vote.

Photo: US Office of the President. Joseph and Jill BIden sit down. with Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu on a previous visit to Israel. Biden has now come under a lot of pressure to break with Netanyahu.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused Tuesday to consider a Ramadan monthlong ceasefire to his campaign to exterminate the Hamas militant group along with large numbers of civilians. He also savagely criticized what the US calls a nonbinding U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza that was voted for by 14 members, with only the US abstaining and not using  its veto.

This was the first time that Britain has voted differently from the US in a Security Council resolution.

“Israel will not submit to the delusional demands of Hamas, and will continue to act to achieve all the goals of the war: to release all the abductees, to destroy the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and to ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group which governs Gaza and which triggered the war with an unprecedented attack on Israel on 7 October, also welcomed the resolution. It said it was ready “to engage in an immediate prisoner exchange process that leads to the release of prisoners on both sides”.

It is not clear how many Israeli hostages held in Gaza are still alive. There are many hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, some for political or terrorist offences.

The Palestinian representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, welcomed the resolution but said it was overdue.

“It has taken six months, over 100,000 Palestinians killed and maimed, two million displaced, and famine, for this council to finally demand an immediate ceasefire,” Mr Mansour said.

The two warring sides have shown little movement in their demands despite weeks of efforts by U.S., Egyptian and Qatari negotiators to find a way to bring a temporary halt in fighting, the release of hostages and an increase in badly needed humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza.

Netanyahu said Tuesday that the Hamas positions proves the terror group “is not interested in continuing negotiations for a deal, and is an unfortunate testimony to the damage of the Security Council’s decision.”

The Security Council resolution adopted Monday “demands” an immediate cease-fire for the month of Ramadan, which is half over, “leading to a lasting sustainable cease-fire.” It also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, the lifting of all barriers to the provision of more humanitarian aid, and the protection of civilians in Gaza.

“This must be a turning point. This must lead to saving lives on the ground,” an emotional Palestinian U.N. envoy, Riyad Mansour, told the council. “This must signal the end of this assault of atrocities against our people.”

The text, put forward by the 10 elected members of the 15-nation council, was adopted in a vote of 14 in favor with the United States abstaining, allowing the measure to pass. This was the eighth time the council attempted to agree on a cease-fire resolution, and it was greeted with applause in the packed council chamber.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington abstained because, while some of their proposals were taken into account, the text did not include a condemnation of Hamas — a major U.S. demand throughout months of negotiations on previous failed cease-fire resolution attempts.

“However, as I said before, we fully support some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution. And we believe it was important for the Council to speak out and make clear that any cease-fire must come with the release of all hostages,” she said.

U.N. Security Council resolutions are international law, so it was not immediately clear why she believes it is not binding. Other council members reiterated that council decisions are binding and mandatory.

In Washington, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that “nothing, nothing has changed about our policy. Nothing.”

Israel’s envoy said the resolution is “shameful” because it does not condition the cease-fire on the release of hostages held by Hamas.

“It should be very clear that as long as Hamas refuses to release the hostages in the diplomatic channels, there is no other way to secure their return than through a military operation,” Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. representative, said.

The 10 elected council members said in a joint statement to reporters after the vote that they hope it will be implemented by all parties and will help ease the suffering of the population in Gaza.

Speaking during a visit to Jordan Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations will keep pushing for more humanitarian access and entry points for aid, and he called for Israel not to institute any limitations or obstacles to aid deliveries.

International humanitarian groups have complained of a lack of access to reach Palestinian civilians, citing materials being rejected by Israeli inspectors, convoys being held up by Israel and a lack of access inside of Gaza because of the ongoing fighting.

Speaking specifically about the situation in northern Gaza, Guterres said, “it is absolutely essential to have a massive supply of humanitarian aid now.”

Meanwhile, there was no halt in the fighting. Israel’s military reported Tuesday conducting more operations around the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, as well as ground fighting and airstrikes in central Gaza.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to host talks Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. The Pentagon said the meeting was expected to include discussion of efforts to secure the release of the remaining hostages held in Gaza as well as the need for more humanitarian aid to reach civilians in Gaza.

Other senior Israeli officials had been expected to take part in separate meetings at the White House, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled their trip Monday after the U.S. did not block the Gaza cease-fire proposal.

“We are very disappointed that they will not be coming to Washington, D.C. to allow us to have a fulsome conversation with them about viable alternatives to going in on the ground in Rafah,” Kirby told reporters at the White House.

The United States has made it clear it will not support an Israeli attack on Rafah, near the Gaza-Egypt border, without a plan to protect civilians there. Israel has said it has a plan but has not publicly said where the Palestinians sheltering there would be relocated.

More than 1.2 million Palestinians have fled there on orders from Israeli forces who told them to leave their homes in northern Gaza as Israeli troops advanced in the earlier stages of the war.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has contended that “we have no way to defeat Hamas without getting into Rafah and eliminating the battalions that are left there.”

Sources: VOA, BBC.
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