UN Security Council passes resolution on increased Gaza aid delivery

The US abstains on resolution that it lobbied to weaken over the course of several days, allowing it to pass.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, left, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, right, speak before the Security Council meeting at UN headquarters [Yuki Iwamura/AP]

The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution to boost humanitarian aid to Gaza, following several delays over the last week as the United States lobbied to weaken the language regarding calls for a ceasefire.

The resolution, which calls for steps “to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities”, passed on Friday with 13 votes in favour, none against, and the US and Russia abstaining.

The vote came amid international calls to bring the months-long conflict to an end, as Israeli forces pummel Gaza with one of the most destructive campaigns in modern history and humanitarian conditions in the besieged strip reach critical levels.

More than 90 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced, and conditions under Israeli siege and bombardment have been described by UN officials as “hell on earth”.

Intense negotiations took place over the last week, with other member states searching for language that would avoid US objections that have doomed previous resolutions on Gaza in the 15-member body, where the US is one of five countries that hold a veto.

The original draft called for “an urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities” and gave the UN increased control over aid deliveries into Gaza. The adopted resolution opts for less equivocal language on a ceasefire and maintains Israel’s control over all aid.

“This was tough, but we got there,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said following the vote.

While a trickle of aid trucks have delivered much-needed assistance to Gaza, aid groups say that truly addressing the strip’s humanitarian crisis will not be possible as long as hostilities continue.

“The real problem is that the way Israel is conducting this offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza. An effective aid operation in Gaza requires security, staff who can work in safety, logistical capacity, and the resumption of commercial activity. These four elements do not exist,” UN chief Antonio Guterres told reporters following the vote.

Before the vote, Russia proposed an amendment strengthening the language around a ceasefire, saying that the draft resolution had been “neutered” by the US.

“By signing off on this, the council would essentially be giving the Israeli armed forces complete freedom of movement for further clearing of the Gaza Strip,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council before the vote.

Thomas-Greenfield accused her Russian counterpart of hypocrisy, pointing to Russia’s own destructive invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022.

But the US has faced accusations of a double-standard over its position on Gaza, with critics saying that the US has spent months railing against Russia for violations of international law in Ukraine while providing Israel with weapons and diplomatic support, even as it faces similar accusations over its conduct in Gaza.

The US vetoed a UNSC resolution calling for a ceasefire earlier this month, and was one of the few dissenting votes when the UN General Assembly passed a ceasefire resolution by an overwhelming margin last week.

“The vast majority of Security Council members, and members of the General Assembly, all want a ceasefire, a complete halting of the bombardment of Gaza, in order to facilitate aid,” Al Jazeera correspondent Gabriel Elizondo reported from UN headquarters.

Earlier this week, the UN called for an investigation into allegations of the killing of unarmed Palestinians by Israeli troops in the strip, and hospitals, UN schools, medical workers, mosques, and churches have also been targeted.

Israel has said that it is working to dismantle Hamas, the Palestinian armed group that governs Gaza and launched a deadly attack on southern Israel on October 7 that killed more than 1,000 people, most of them civilians, and took more than 240 captive.

More than 20,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed since the current round of fighting began.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies