Ahead of key Israel-Hamas ceasefire vote, where do UNSC members stand?

Support for a ceasefire has grown within the UN Security Council, but the US and UK might veto the proposal.

A Palestinian woman gestures following Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian woman gestures following Israeli air strikes in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip [Mohammed Dahman/AP Photo]

The United Nations Security Council will meet today (14:00 GMT) to discuss the war in Gaza, after its Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used a special measure of invoking Article 99 to urge the organisation’s most powerful body to call for a ceasefire.

Since October 7, 17,177 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and at least 1,147 Israelis. Thousands more remain missing in the rubble of Gaza’s destroyed buildings.

Following Antonio Guterres’ call, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the only Arab country on the 15-strong UNSC, has pushed for a draft resolution demanding an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

What is the new draft resolution?

It will be the sixth resolution to be put forward, since the war started, in trying to find some form of agreement to end the bloodshed.

The UAE mission to the UN wrote in a statement: “The situation in the Gaza Strip is catastrophic and close to irreversible. We cannot wait. The Council needs to act decisively to demand a humanitarian ceasefire.”

The draft resolution has the support of other Arab nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

But for a resolution to be adopted, at least nine of the 15-member UN Security Council must vote in its favour and none of the council’s five permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom – must veto the resolution.

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A four-day Gaza truce, agreed upon by Hamas and Israel, finally took effect on November 24 and was later extended for an additional three days [Al Jazeera]

How have the 15 members voted on Gaza war resolutions so far?

In addition to the five veto-wielding permanent members, the UNSC includes 10 non-permanent members elected every two years by the General Assembly.

The current non-permanent members are Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the UAE.

The UNSC has voted on five resolutions throughout the war and failed to pass four due to a lack of consensus among the nations.

Of the 15 members, four voted against the first Russia-led draft on October 16 – these were: France, Japan, the UK and the US. The main criticism it faced was that the draft did not name or condemn Hamas. This draft called for an immediate ceasefire.

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The US has repeatedly vetoed measures to end the war [Al Jazeera]

Brazil led the second draft on October 18. While it condemned Hamas and called for humanitarian pauses, garnering overwhelming votes in favour, the US vetoed the resolution. This was because the resolution did not mention Israel’s right of self-defence, said US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Russia proposed another draft on October 25, calling for a humanitarian ceasefire and the release of captives held by Hamas. However, the resolution did not condemn Hamas. Only four members voted in favour. The UK said it wants the UNSC to work towards a “balanced text” and that the Russian draft failed to support Israel’s right to self-defence.

The US also led a draft resolution on October 25, calling for a humanitarian pause instead of a ceasefire. Ten members voted in favour but permanent members Russia and China vetoed the resolution.

The UNSC finally adopted a Malta-led resolution calling for humanitarian pauses and aid delivery to Gaza on November 15. The US, UK and Russia abstained, with 12 nations voting in favour.

Jordan led a non-binding resolution at the UN General Assembly on October 27, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza alongside unhindered access to humanitarian aid in the besieged enclave, as well as for Israel to revoke its call for northern Gaza’s evacuation.

This time, 120 countries, including France, voted in favour of it, with only 14 nations – including the US and Israel – voting against it, while 45 countries abstained. This resolution passed.

What positions have UNSC members taken on calls for a ceasefire?

  • Russia, China, Gabon and Mozambique all voted in favour of an immediate ceasefire during the vote that Moscow proposed on October 16, and have not changed their positions since.
  • The UAE, which has driven the latest resolution up for discussion on Friday, has called for a ceasefire.
  • Brazil’s envoy to the UN on November 15 said that his government supported Guterres’ call for a humanitarian ceasefire. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, too, had earlier called for a ceasefire.
  • Malta and Ecuador also backed a humanitarian ceasefire at the UN on November 29.
  • Also at the November 29 UNSC meeting, the French permanent representative to the UN called for the brief truce that was in force for a week last month “to be permanent and lead to a ceasefire”.
  • Ghana, Albania and Switzerland have consistently backed humanitarian pauses, but have not voiced support for resolutions that have called for outright ceasefires.
  • Japan has voted against calls for a ceasefire, while backing humanitarian pauses.
  • The US and UK have vetoed resolutions calling for a ceasefire.

What might happen at today’s meeting?

The Security Council could act on Guterres’ advice and consider a ceasefire resolution in Gaza, but the US and UK in particular might veto the proposal — as they have in the past.

Ian Wilson, a lecturer in politics and security studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia earlier told Al Jazeera, “The US will veto any resolution calling for a ceasefire, no matter how carefully it’s worded.

“The US always vetoes anything that seeks to constrain Israel. It is absolutely counterproductive as the whole world sees them condoning and providing the arms for wholesale massacre.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies