The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2712, which calls for the establishment of truces and urgent humanitarian corridors throughout the Gaza Strip and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.
In the 15-member Council, the resolution was adopted with 12 votes in favour and abstentions in the United States of America, Russia and the United Kingdom.
This was the fifth attempt in the Council to adopt a draft resolution on the escalation in Gaza and Israel since the seventh of October. On previous occasions, the Council was unable to adopt any of the draft resolutions submitted to it either because of a veto or insufficient number of votes.
Malta, Chair of the Council on Children and Armed Conflict, introduced the draft resolution calling for the establishment of truces and emergency humanitarian corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable UN humanitarian agencies and their partners full, urgent and unhindered access to provide humanitarian assistance and facilitate the provision of essential goods and services critical to the well-being of civilians, especially children, throughout the Gaza Strip.
In this regard, the resolution noted that such humanitarian truces will enable “urgent repairs to basic infrastructure and urgent rescue and recovery efforts, including for missing children” in damaged and destroyed buildings, including the medical evacuation of sick or injured children and caregivers.
The resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, in particular children, as well as for ensuring immediate access to humanitarian assistance.
The resolution calls upon all parties to refrain from depriving the civilian population in Gaza of the basic services and humanitarian assistance necessary for their survival in accordance with international humanitarian law. It welcomes the initial provision of humanitarian supplies to civilians in the Gaza Strip, albeit limited, and calls for such supplies to meet the needs of the civilian population, in particular children.
The resolution demands that all parties comply with their obligations under international law.
It stresses the importance of coordination, humanitarian notification and conflict avoidance mechanisms to protect all medical and humanitarian personnel, humanitarian vehicles and sites and critical infrastructure, including United Nations facilities, and to help facilitate the movement of aid convoys and patients, especially sick and wounded children and their caregivers.
Vanessa Fraser, Malta’s permanent representative to the UN, said – before the vote – that the draft resolution “seeks to inspire hope in this dark hour. It aims to ensure a respite from the current nightmare in Gaza and give hope to the families of all victims.”
She added that he focuses specifically on the plight of children trapped in the war zone, and those being held hostage. The measures covered by the resolution would ensure safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance.
The resolution also “facilitates the continuous, adequate and unhindered provision of essential goods and services critical to the well-being of civilians, especially children,” as well as the opportunity for urgent rescue and recovery efforts, she said.
She stressed that the text of the resolution underscores the particular vulnerability of children and calls for the safe and unconditional release of hostages, especially children held by Hamas and other groups. This was also a clear humanitarian imperative that could not be ignored. She stressed that international humanitarian law provides general protection for children as persons not taking part in hostilities.
She noted that children suffer disproportionately in this conflict, adding that “we cannot turn a blind eye to their suffering at this time.”
United Arab Emirates
Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations, said that the issue of child protection was the polar star that guided the Security Council’s approach to the draft resolution.
She stressed that the importance of the essential elements of this resolution and what they mean in practice for the people of Gaza should not be underestimated, “for the sake of children and other Palestinians seeking safety from hostilities, for the sake of Israeli children and others still held hostage, and for the United Nations humanitarian and medical workers who risk their lives to help alleviate the immense human suffering on the ground.”
The resolution was also what humanitarian actors had consistently demanded as the minimum that would enable them to carry out their life-saving work.
“The decision means providing sufficient time and space in real time for search and rescue operations to rescue these children buried under the rubble, including the 1,500 children reported missing there. This means that fuel, food, water, medicine and other essential commodities can be delivered on a large scale.”
She described the resolution as a first, important and overdue step on the part of the Council. It is the first resolution adopted by the Security Council on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since 2016.
She stressed the urgent need to protect civilians, especially children, and the need for Israel to cease attacks on civilians and civilian objects.
She referred to the violence in the West Bank and the killing of some 200 Palestinians since 7 October and stressed the need to stop this and for Israel to hold the perpetrators of these attacks accountable.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the world watched with frustration and concern the Security Council’s inability to speak publicly on this pressing issue of international peace and security.
She added that many people have lost hope that the Council can speak out about this conflict. But she said the council adopted a resolution today “because most of us worked constructively and in good faith to adopt the resolution.”
Although she expressed disappointment that the draft resolution “does not contain a condemnation of Hamas, this is the first time we have adopted a resolution mentioning the word Hamas.”
It fully supported the resolution’s call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed hope that the humanitarian truces would help the UN and humanitarian partners deliver aid and enable the safe passage of civilians fleeing violence.
While this resolution is a step forward, the U.S. ambassador said its adoption alone will not save lives, “and that’s why, from the outset, President Biden and Secretary Blinken have worked comprehensively with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies, along with our regional partners, to respond to this crisis to save lives. We must all support the heroic efforts of the United Nations and other humanitarian actors in Gaza.”
She also stressed the need to start looking ahead and lay the foundation for a sustainable peace that places the voices and aspirations of the Palestinian people at the centre of post-crisis governance in Gaza.
Before the vote on the draft resolution, which was adopted by the Council, the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations proposed the addition of an oral amendment calling for an immediate and lasting humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.
The amendment was put to the vote, with only 5 members in favour, against and 9 abstentions. Thus, it was not adopted because it did not receive enough votes.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia expressed “disappointment” that the amendment proposed by Russia had not been adopted.
“We have serious concerns about the non-implementation of the provisions of this resolution on the ground.”
He wondered who would agree to the human truces, who would monitor and verify them, and what the consequences of not adhering to them were.
He warned that “the document (resolution) we adopted will not contribute to overcoming the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and its population.”
He added that the council will have to decide on additional steps to follow up on the implementation of the resolution, including whether to send observers to the conflict zone, and which body will be involved in this matter. The absolute priority was to adopt a strong exit from the Security Council that would include an unequivocal call for an immediate ceasefire.
He explained that his country can only respond to appeals, including calls by countries in the region to the Security Council to adopt some kind of humanitarian resolution, adding that this is the only reason why we “chose to ignore the many shortcomings in the text of the draft resolution,” referring only to its abstention and non-veto power against the draft resolution.
The Russian ambassador pointed out that the most prominent of these shortcomings is the lack of a call for an immediate ceasefire, stressing that any humanitarian action requires an immediate cessation of hostilities.
State of Palestine
Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, said the resolution adopted by the Council today “did not condemn Israel’s killing of 11,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including 5,000 Palestinian children. He did not condemn the indiscriminate attacks by Israel.”
He added that the resolution also did not condemn “the attack on hospitals and schools, and Israel’s killing of UN staff, journalists, humanitarian workers, doctors and rescue teams.”
Mansour stressed that the Security Council should have called for a ceasefire long ago, and should have called for a ceasefire now.
“It (the council) should have responded to the call of the United Nations and every humanitarian organization on earth calling for a humanitarian ceasefire. He should have at least reiterated the General Assembly’s call for an immediate, lasting and sustainable humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.”
He also noted that the Security Council should have been convinced that there was no military solution, “especially one based on atrocities,” and come up with advanced political solutions.
He said that the moment the bombs “stop we will see the results” including saving lives, allowing humanitarian aid in, rescuing thousands under the rubble, including Palestinian children, as well as allowing people in custody to be released.
Mansour spoke about what he described as the current Israeli government’s plan, saying, “Its plan is to continue to dispossess, displace and deprive the Palestinian people of their rights.”
“Such schemes” not only deprive the Palestinian people of their rights, but also deprive the region of any chance for common peace and security.
“There is an alternative reality in which Palestinians are free and no Palestinian or Israeli is killed. It’s time for this reality to prevail.”
Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Brett Jonathan Miller, said today’s council resolution was separate from what was happening on the ground.
While praising the call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, he lamented that “this decision will not fall on deaf ears when it comes to Hamas.”
He said the Security Council had met on the issue almost ten times and “has not yet succeeded in condemning the October 7 massacre committed by Hamas.”
The Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel explained that the resolution focuses only on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, but did not address the reasons that led to this moment, “which seems as if what we are witnessing in Gaza happened on its own.”
Brett Jonathan Miller said Israel had to act “to defend our future. Israel’s mission, as we have clearly said before, is to eliminate Hamas’s capabilities.”
Israel has already implemented daily tactical humanitarian truces to allow civilians in Gaza to evacuate temporarily.
To date, he said, Israel had approved the entry of nearly 1,400 trucks loaded with thousands of tons of aid, accusing Hamas of “stockpiling food, fuel and medical supplies…. This leaves civilians in Gaza with nothing for weeks.”
He added that Israel had called for the temporary evacuation of all hospitals in northern Gaza in order to mitigate casualties and protect civilian lives.
The Israeli ambassador stated that the Security Council resolution does not contribute anything regarding the situation on the ground, noting that “repatriating the hostages” is Israel’s top priority, “and Israel will continue to do whatever is necessary to achieve this goal.”