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Middle East

UN Security Council approves US-led hostages-for-ceasefire agreement in Gaza

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  • The UN Security Council has endorsed a US-backed hostages-for-ceasefire deal with a three-phase approach to end the conflict in Gaza.
  • The resolution calls for an initial six-week ceasefire, followed by negotiations for a permanent end to hostilities and a major reconstruction effort in Gaza.
  • The resolution emphasizes the importance of humanitarian assistance and reiterates the commitment to a two-state solution for lasting peace in the region.

The United Nations Security Council has endorsed a US-backed hostages-for-ceasefire deal designed to bring an end to the prolonged conflict in Gaza. This resolution, which saw overwhelming support with 14 votes in favor and only Russia abstaining, represents a significant step towards peace in the Middle East. The deal, proposed by US President Joe Biden, outlines a comprehensive three-phase approach aimed at ceasing hostilities and initiating a long-term peace process.

The Three-Phase Approach

The resolution calls for an initial six-week ceasefire during which Hamas is expected to release elderly, sick, and female hostages in exchange for Palestinian detainees held by Israel. This temporary truce is intended to pave the way for more extensive negotiations aimed at a permanent end to hostilities. The second phase involves the release of all remaining hostages and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The final phase focuses on the reconstruction of Gaza, which has been devastated by eight months of intense conflict.

US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, emphasized the importance of this resolution, stating, "Today, we voted for peace. This is not just a ceasefire that would inevitably be fragile and temporary, but one that would provide a durable end to the war". The resolution also underscores the need for humanitarian assistance, with plans to facilitate the safe and effective distribution of aid throughout Gaza.

International Support and Challenges

The resolution has garnered significant international support, with the Palestinian mission expressing approval and a clause ensuring that the ceasefire would be extended as long as negotiations for the second phase continue. However, the situation remains complex, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing skepticism about the deal. The resignation of centrist minister Benny Gantz has left Netanyahu more reliant on far-right coalition members who oppose the agreement.

Hamas has yet to formally respond to the ceasefire proposal, although initial reactions have been cautiously positive. The Security Council's consensus puts pressure on both parties to reach an agreement, although their actions have historically been influenced more by local constituencies and the personal interests of their leaders than by international public opinion.

Humanitarian and Reconstruction Efforts

The resolution also highlights the importance of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction efforts in Gaza. The third phase of the plan involves a major multi-year reconstruction initiative aimed at rebuilding the war-torn region. This phase is crucial for ensuring long-term stability and peace in Gaza, providing much-needed relief to the civilian population.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has been actively involved in the negotiations, described the current moment as "critical." He urged governments and people throughout the region to press Hamas to accept the deal, stating, "If you want to alleviate the terrible suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, press Hamas to say yes".

A Path to Lasting Peace

The resolution also reiterates the Security Council's commitment to a two-state solution, envisioning a future where Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders. This vision is seen as essential for achieving lasting peace and stability in the region.

Algerian Ambassador Amar Bendjama, reflecting on his country's support for the resolution, stated, "Palestinian lives matter. This text is not perfect, but it offers a glimmer of hope to the Palestinians as the alternative is continued killing and suffering".

The UN Security Council's endorsement of the US-backed hostages-for-ceasefire deal represents a significant step towards ending the conflict in Gaza and achieving lasting peace in the Middle East. While challenges remain, the resolution provides a framework for a comprehensive peace process that addresses the immediate humanitarian needs and paves the way for long-term stability and reconstruction.

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