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US proposes UN resolution supporting temporary ceasefire in Gaza

an israeli tank manoeuvres along the northern gaza strip border
An Israeli tank manoeuvres along the northern Gaza Strip border

The United States has proposed a rival draft United Nations Security Council resolution that would underscore the body’s “support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable,” according to the text seen by Reuters on Monday.

Washington has been averse to the word ceasefire in any U.N. action on the Israel-Hamas war, but the U.S. draft text echoes language that President Joe Biden said he used last week in conversations with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S. draft text also “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries.”

Israel plans to storm Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than 1 millions Palestinians have sought shelter, prompting international concern that such a move would sharply worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The draft U.S. resolution says such a move “would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

It was not immediately clear when or if the draft resolution would be put to a vote in the 15-member council.

The U.S. put forward the text after Algeria on Saturday requested the council vote on Tuesday on its draft resolution, which would demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield quickly signaled that it would be vetoed.

Washington traditionally shields its ally Israel from U.N. action and has already twice vetoed council resolutions since Oct. 7. But it has also abstained twice, allowing the council to adopt resolutions that aimed to boost humanitarian aid to Gaza and called for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in fighting.

The U.S., Egypt, Israel and Qatar are seeking to negotiate a pause in the war and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Algeria put forward an initial draft resolution more than two weeks ago. But Thomas-Greenfield said the text could jeopardize the “sensitive negotiations” on the hostages.

The Gaza war began when fighters from the Hamas militant group that runs Gaza attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. In retaliation, Israel launched a military assault on Gaza that health authorities say has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians with thousands more bodies feared lost amid the ruins.

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