US Proposes “Immediate Ceasefire” in UNSC

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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A Strong Shift

The US has submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council (UNSC) which calls for an immediate ceasefire for the first time. The resolution represents a strong shift in US policy, which had previously only called for temporary ceasefires, which was in line with Israel’s wishes.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has stated that the ceasefire resolution proposed is “tied to the release of hostages.”

The US’ resolution comes after they had previously vetoed three resolutions in the UNSC which had called for an immediate ceasefire, including recently in February, with claims that the ceasefires would both allow Hamas to again attack Israel, as well as jeopardize ongoing hostage negotiations.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Photo from Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images).

Mediators from both sides are to meet in Doha, Qatar, tomorrow in the hopes of reaching a final peace deal in order to secure the release of hostages.

Several different deals have been proposed and rejected by both sides, with a number of key differences in demands from either side bogging down negotiations (namely, the length of the ceasefire. Hamas calls for a full halt to the war and a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, whereas Israel has put forward a six week ceasefire in exchange for some of the most vulnerable hostages). However Secretary Blinken has expressed hopes that a deal can soon be reached.

“It’s getting closer.  I think the gaps are narrowing, and I think an agreement is very much possible.  We worked very hard with Qatar, with Egypt, and with Israel to put a strong proposal on the table.  We did that; Hamas wouldn’t accept it.  They came back with other requests, other demands.  The negotiators are working on that right now.  But I believe it’s very much doable, and it’s very much necessary.  And of course, if Hamas cares at all about the people it purports to represent, then it would reach an agreement, because that would have the immediate effect of a ceasefire, alleviating the tremendous suffering of people, bringing more humanitarian assistance in, and then giving us the possibility of having something more lasting” -Secretary Blinken

There is no date yet set for when the UNSC is to vote on the US proposal.

When speaking on the resolution, Secretary Blinken stated he hoped the resolution “would send a strong message, a strong signal.  But, of course, we stand with Israel and its right to defend itself, to make sure that October 7th never happens again, but at the same time, it’s imperative that the civilians who are in harm’s way and who are suffering so terribly – that we focus on them, that we make them a priority, protecting the civilians, getting them humanitarian assistance.”

Similar to Secretary Blinken’s statement, a number of nations which are typically aligned towards Israel have called for a ceasefire in the face of mounting casualties, which in Gaza are rapidly nearing 32,000 fatalities.

The US resolution also comes as the UN continues to warn of an impending famine within Gaza. A number of different countries are experimenting with different ways to deliver aid into Gaza as ground deliveries face delays. Several nations have opted for air dropping aid over Gaza, however humanitarian organizations are insisting it is not enough. The US is in the process of constructing a pier on Gaza’s coastline in order to facilitate aid delivery by ship, with Secretary Blinken stating “in a matter of weeks, hopefully, that will be done.”

A photo of aid deliveries being airdropped above Gaza on March 5th, 2024 (Photo from AFP).

Notably, this is not the first time that sides have expressed hopes at the proximity of a ceasefire. In late February President Biden expressed hopes of a temporary ceasefire being established, however negotiations again became bogged down both by the situation within Gaza (particularly as Palestinian groups accused the IDF of attacking civilians awaiting aid), as well as the key differences in proposals from Hamas and Israel.

The Rafah Question

Contrary to Secretary Blinken’s claims, has been words from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has continually been insistent upon carrying out a ground operation in the Gazan city of Rafah in order to eliminate Hamas cells there.

A problem is that the city has become one of the last refuges of Palestinians within Gaza, and is presently host to approximately 1.4 million people. The US has publicly and privately stated their opposition to such an operation, including US President Joe Biden stating it directly to PM Netanyahu that they would not support an operation in Rafah.

PM Netanyahu has remained openly defiant and insisted upon an operation in Rafah. Still, An Israeli team is reportedly travelling to the US in order to discuss alternatives to a ground operation in Rafah with US authorities. These meetings are to take place next week. Secretary Blinken stated that “right now our focus is on showing that there’re alternatives to that that can deal with the ongoing challenge of Hamas but in a way that doesn’t further jeopardize the safety, the security of the lives of innocent people who are caught in this crossfire of Hamas’s making.”

The alternatives which he speaks of is unknown.

Both the proposed ceasefire resolution and the rejection of a ground operation in Rafah represent a significant shift of the US support for Israel. While it remains extensive, it appears to be reaching a point where it may start to wane.