What's In Blue

Posted Mon 10 Jun 2024

The Middle East, including the Palestinian Question: Vote on a Draft Resolution*

This afternoon (10 June), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution on the war between Israel and Hamas authored by the US that welcomes the ceasefire proposal announced by US President Joe Biden on 31 May. The vote will take place after the vote on a draft resolution on the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions regime.


On 31 May, Biden announced what he described as a new Israeli proposal, calling it “a roadmap to an enduring ceasefire and the release of all hostages”. He said that the proposal would have three phases, the first of which would include, among other things, “a full and complete ceasefire”, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from “all populated areas of Gaza”, and the release of “a number of hostages—including women, the elderly, the wounded—in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners”. This first phase is expected to last six weeks, during which Israel and Hamas would “negotiate the necessary arrangements” to move to the second phase, which would see the “release of all remaining living hostages” in exchange for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The third phase would include a “major reconstruction plan for Gaza” and the return of “any final remains of hostages who have been killed” to their families.

Although Biden referred to the plan as an Israeli proposal, following his announcement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said that Israel’s conditions for ending the war—including “the destruction of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities” and the freeing of all hostages—had not changed. Additionally, there have been several reports of Israeli officials indicating that Biden’s description of the Israeli offer was inaccurate or that there were “gaps” between the version presented by Biden and what Israel actually proposed. Two far-right Israeli ministers, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, also rejected the 31 May proposal, threating to bring down the governing coalition.

Today will be the eleventh time the Security Council votes on a draft resolution on the war between Israel and Hamas. Only three of the draft resolutions previously voted on were adopted—resolution 2712 of 15 November 2023, resolution 2720 of 22 December 2023, and resolution 2728 of 25 March. (For background, see the table below.) On 18 April, the Council also failed to adopt a draft resolution submitted by Algeria recommending the admission of the State of Palestine to UN membership.

Negotiations on the Draft Resolution

The draft resolution in blue welcomes the ceasefire proposal announced on 31 May, says that Israel has “accepted” this proposal, calls on Hamas “to also accept it”, and urges both parties to implement its terms “without delay and without condition”.  It underlines that the proposal indicates that “if the negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the ceasefire will still continue as long as negotiations continue”. The text further rejects any attempt at “demographic or territorial change in the Gaza Strip, including any actions that reduce the territory of Gaza”. It also reiterates the Council’s “commitment to the vision of the two-State solution where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders” and stresses in this regard “the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority”.

The US-proposed draft resolution on which the Council is expected to vote today follows the suspension of negotiations on a separate draft authored by Algeria which focused on Israel’s offensive in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost governorate. It seems that, following Biden’s 31 May announcement, Algeria agreed to pause the negotiations on its draft resolution while Council members negotiated the US text. (For background on Israel’s offensive in Rafah, see our 20 May What’s in Blue story.)

The US circulated a first version of its draft resolution on 3 June and invited comments until 9:30 am on Tuesday, a deadline later extended to noon. On 5 June, the US put a revised draft under silence procedure until the afternoon of the following day. Algeria and Russia subsequently broke silence on the draft, and other members submitted comments following the silence break. Yesterday afternoon (9 June), the US circulated an amended version and put it in blue. This morning, a vote on the text was scheduled to take place this afternoon.

Many Council members are likely to support the draft in blue because of the urgency of the situation on the ground, although some elements of the text have raised concerns among members. Some members have questioned whether Israel has indeed accepted the proposal, as indicated in the text—a point that Russia apparently made when it broke silence. It also seems that a number of members would have preferred for the text to call on both parties, not just Hamas, to accept the proposal.

Another concern that has been raised is that while the text welcomes the “new ceasefire proposal”, the Council itself does not directly call for a ceasefire and the release of the hostages in the draft resolution. Over eight months into the war, the Security Council has yet to issue an unqualified demand for a ceasefire. Resolution 2712 called for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip”, resolution 2720 called for urgent steps to “create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities”, and resolution 2728 demanded an “immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire”. All three resolutions have called for “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages”. With the exception of provisions focused on UN reporting and the appointment of a Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza and, resolutions 2712, 2720, and 2728 remain unimplemented.

It seems that a couple of members were concerned that the initial draft of the resolution referred to a “negotiated” two-state solution. In the subsequent drafts, including the one in blue, the word “negotiated” was omitted to address this concern.

Some members also criticised earlier versions of the draft for not mentioning as part of the first phase of the proposal the release of Palestinian detainees, which Biden alluded to in his 31 May announcement. To address this concern, the penholder added a reference to the “exchange of Palestinian prisoners” as an element of the proposal’s first phase in the draft in blue.

The paragraph referring to maintaining the ceasefire while the negotiations continue, which was not included in earlier iterations of the draft, was added to the draft resolution in blue. It appears that this was done to allay some members’ worries about a possible end to the ceasefire if implementation of the first phase of the plan continued beyond the envisioned six weeks.

It appears that some members called for the inclusion of language requesting the parties to respect international humanitarian law in the conflict, a request that was not accommodated by the penholder.

Biden’s announcement and the negotiations on the ceasefire deal take place against the backdrop of significant developments related to the fighting in Gaza. Israeli bombardment continues to be reported across most of the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, and in central Gaza, as well as ground incursions and heavy fighting. On 8 June, Israel conducted an operation in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza that led to the rescue of four Israeli hostages and also resulted in a high number of Palestinian casualties. Palestinian officials in Gaza have said that 274 Palestinians were killed and 698 wounded during the operation, which was accompanied by heavy bombardment. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have maintained that the operation resulted in under 100 casualties. In an 8 June post on X (formerly Twitter), Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said that all hostages must be released, while underscoring that the “images of death and devastation following Israel’s military operation [in Nuseirat] prove that each day this war continues, it only grows more horrific” and adding that “nowhere is safe in Gaza”.

On 8 June, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instructed the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the UN to request a meeting of the Security Council on the repercussions of the 8 June operation in the Nuseirat refugee camp. At the time of writing, no Council member had called for the meeting.

Security Council Voting Patterns during the Israel-Hamas War

(For full view of the table, click on the image above.)


Post-script: On 10 June, the Security Council adopted resolution 2735, welcoming the ceasefire proposal announced by US President Joe Biden on 31 May, with 14 votes in favour and one abstention (Russia). In its explanation of vote, Russia maintained that there was a lack of clarity regarding the precise elements of the ceasefire proposal, as well as whether the proposal is supported by Israel. It also regretted that the resolution did not contain a clear demand from the Council for a ceasefire. Nonetheless, Russia said that it had not blocked the text because it received support from Arab countries.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails

Subscribe to receive SCR publications