Will the UN ceasefire resolution stop Israel’s war on Gaza?

While the US did not veto the recent Gaza ceasefire resolution, it continues to supply arms to Israel.

After more than five months of fighting and five vetoed draft resolutions, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members on Monday successfully passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The United States abstained from voting while the remaining 14 UNSC members voted in favour of the resolution, which was proposed by the 10 elected members of the council.


The resolution calls for an “immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting, sustainable ceasefire”.

It additionally calls for the release of the Israeli captives taken by Hamas on October 7. It emphasises the need for more humanitarian aid flowing into Gaza and on adherence to international law.

While promising at least a pause in the war, the resolution has been criticised by some analysts for being more symbolic than substantial in its ability to bring an end to the war. Nancy Okail, the president of the US-based think tank Center for International Policy, told Al Jazeera’s Ali Harb that while the resolution is significant, it is “still very late and still not enough”.

Is the resolution binding?

All UNSC resolutions are considered binding, in accordance with Article 25 of the UN Charter which was ratified by the US.

However, the US has described the Monday resolution as non-binding. US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington fully supported “some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution”. On the same day, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters: “It is a non-binding resolution”.

This has been contested by other UN officials and Security Council members. China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun said that Security Council resolutions are binding.

Deputy UN spokesperson Farhan Haq added that UNSC resolutions are international law, “so to that extent they are as binding as international law is”.

The Anadolu Agency reported that Pedro Comissario, Mozambique’s UN ambassador, said “all United Nations Security Council resolutions are binding and mandatory”.

If a UNSC resolution is not followed, the council can vote on a follow-up resolution addressing the breach and take punitive action in the form of sanctions or even the authorisation of an international force.

Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays has previously said that “There are virtually no circumstances under which the Biden administration would support a punitive resolution” that takes action against Israel.

Israel has repeatedly gotten away with flouting UN resolutions in the past.

In December 2016, during the last days of Barack Obama’s presidential term in the US, the UNSC passed a resolution deeming Israel’s settlements in Palestine illegal and a violation of international law. The resolution passed with 14 votes and the US abstained. Israel ignored this resolution.

More recently, in December 2023, the UN General Assembly voted with an overwhelming majority to call for a “humanitarian ceasefire”. That was a non-binding resolution – and Israel refused to act on it.

Israel is also under the scanner of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where South Africa has accused it of committing acts of genocide in Gaza.   

Will the UN resolution stop the war?

The resolution calls for an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan. However, since Ramadan ends around April 9, the ceasefire demand – even if implemented now – would last for just two weeks.

The document says that the immediate ceasefire in Ramadan should then lead to a lasting and sustainable ceasefire. Shortly before the vote on Monday, the word “permanent” was dropped from the resolution to try to build consensus on the text. Russia tried to push for the use of the word “permanent,” saying that not using the word could allow Israel “to resume its military operation in the Gaza Strip at any moment” after Ramadan.

The US has also not halted the supply of military aid to Israel and has insisted that its commitment to Israel’s security remains firm. In fact, White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Monday: “Our vote does not – and I repeat that, does not – represent a shift in our policy”.

How is this resolution different from the recent resolution that failed?

A draft resolution was put forth by the US before the council last Friday and the members voted on it. It was vetoed by Russia and China; Algeria voted against it and Guyana abstained. Eleven members voted in favour of this draft resolution.

The resolution did not demand a ceasefire, but instead supported “international diplomatic efforts to establish an immediate and sustained ceasefire as part of a deal that releases the hostages”.

In a press statement on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that the US wants any demands of a ceasefire to be tied to the release of Israeli captives.

The Friday resolution also urged UNSC member states to “suppress the financing of terrorism, including by restricting financing of Hamas”. The resolution also condemned Hamas and noted that Hamas “has been designated as a terrorist organisation by numerous member states”. Blinken’s statement further said that the resolution that passed on Monday failed to condemn Hamas, which is key language that the US views as essential.

Israel has criticised Monday’s resolution for not tying a ceasefire to the release of captives – and instead for the two to each happen separately.

Has the resolution deepened US-Israel tensions?

The US abstained on Monday after vetoing three previous draft resolutions calling for a ceasefire.

Heightened tensions between the US and Israel were seen on Monday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a trip by a delegation to Washington. This was described as “surprising and unfortunate” by State Department spokesperson Miller.

However, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is in the US: He met Blinken on Monday and is scheduled to meet US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday. Blinken told Gallant to refrain from a ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

While the US reiterated that its policy remains consistent, the official Prime Minister of Israel X handle posted on Monday night: “The United States has abandoned its policy in the UN today”.

It added to a thread of posts: “Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear last night that should the US depart from its principled policy and not veto this harmful resolution, he will cancel the Israeli delegation’s visit to the United States.”

Gaza is on the brink of starvation, with at least 32, 000 Palestinians killed. “This resolution must be implemented,” posted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on X.

“Failure would be unforgivable”.

Source: Al Jazeera