U.S. Proposes UN Security Council Oppose Rafah Assault

United Nations Security Council chamber.

A United Nations Security Council resolution proposed by the United States will call for a temporary ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, and oppose a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah in southern Gaza, it was reported on Monday.

Although the United States has avoided using the word “ceasefire” in any U.N. resolution concerning the Israel-Hamas war, the draft of the U.S. text echoes language that President Joe Biden reportedly used last week in conversations with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The resolution would underscore that a temporary cease-fire be implemented “as soon as practicable,” requires the release of all hostages taken from Israel after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, and calls for the lifting of all restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The U.S. draft also says both of those actions “would help to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities” as called for in a resolution adopted by the council on Dec. 22.

Notably, the draft 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.”

In addition, it would condemn calls by some Israeli government ministers for Jewish settlers to move to Gaza and would reject any attempt at demographic or territorial change in Gaza that would violate international law. As well as reject “any actions by any party that reduce the territory of Gaza, on a temporary or permanent basis, including through the establishment officially or unofficially of so-called buffer zones, as well as the widespread, systematic demolition of civilian infrastructure.”

Israel has announced plans to storm Rafah in order to eliminate remaining Hamas battalions and free the remaining hostages which are believed to be held there. Rafah is currently the place where more than 1 million of the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza have sought shelter, prompting international concern that such a move would worsen the humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

The 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.

Algeria put forth a resolution on Saturday and requested the council vote on it this Tuesday. That resolution would demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield quickly signaled that it would be vetoed because it could jeopardize “sensitive negotiations” concerning the hostages.

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

With reporting by wire services.

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