Russia’s UN ambassador calls for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas conflict

Vassily Nebenzia says UN Security Council should restart peace talks ‘with a view to establishing a Palestinian state’.

Israel Palestinians Weapons
Israel continues to pound Gaza amid mounting calls to cease the attacks that have killed many civilians [Hatem Moussa/AP Photo]

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations has called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip and Israel, while blaming the United States for the continuing conflict.

The Russian draft resolution, presented to the UN Security Council on Friday, calls for an “immediate” ceasefire and the secure release of all hostages, and “strongly condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism”.

The draft resolution also calls for humanitarian aid access and the safe evacuation of civilians in need.

The draft was given to the 15-member council during a closed-door meeting on the conflict, according to unnamed diplomats.

“We’re convinced that the Security Council must act to put an end to the bloodshed and restart peace negotiations with a view to establishing a Palestinian state as it was supposed to do so long ago,” Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said after the closed-door meeting of the Security Council on Friday.

Nebenzia said there were positive responses to the draft resolution among some member states.

He also blamed the United States for bearing “responsibility for the looming war in the Middle East,” and criticised European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen for “turning a blind eye to the Israeli air force attacks on civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip”.

INTERACTIVE Gaza Israel casualty tracker October 14-1697258309

Israel began pounding the enclave of Gaza shortly after Hamas, the Palestinian political and armed group, launched its deadliest-ever surprise assault on Israel last week that killed at least 1,300 people.

Israel’s response has proven even deadlier, with at least 1,900 Palestinians having been killed and the death toll mounting.

The draft resolution comes after countries urged Israel to hold off attacking northern Gaza, where it had ordered more than a million civilians to evacuate, something the UN had called “impossible”.

The one-page Russian draft resolution reportedly refers to Israel and the Palestinians but does not directly name Hamas.

“They have not consulted anyone and it does not even mention Hamas, so they are clearly not serious or aligned with most council members,” a council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

A UNSC resolution needs at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the US, Britain, France, China or Russia.

Washington has traditionally shielded its top regional ally Israel from any Security Council action.

It was not immediately clear when or if Russia would put the draft resolution to a vote.

As the siege on Gaza continues, the city has been left without water, electricity and internet, and there have been concerns about the rising casualties, which have mostly been women and children.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies