The UN Security Council on Wednesday, November 17, 2023 passed a resolution presented by Malta, calling for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and for urgent humanitarian pauses to save and protect civilians. This vote comes after four unsuccessful efforts by the UN to take action last month.
Resolution 2712 on the Israel-Palestine crisis that began on October 7, 2023, was adopted after 12 members voted in favour, none against, and three abstentions from Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US.
The resolution calls for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors in Gaza for a sufficient number of days to allow full, rapid, and unhindered access for UN agencies and partners.
The council also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children.
However, Brett Jonathan Miller, Israel’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, said that the resolution was detached from reality on the ground and would fall on deaf ears when it came to Hamas and other terrorist organisations.
“The war would end immediately should Hamas choose to lay down their arms, turn themselves in, and hand over the hostages unscathed,” Mr. Miller said.
Ambassador Zhang Jun of China, whose country holds the UN Security Council presidency for November, said that the council should have adopted a more robust resolution earlier.
He urged Israel to end hostilities against civilian facilities, including hospitals, and to restore basic supplies such as water and fuel as soon as possible.
The United States Ambassador, Linda Thomas Greenfield, said her country could not vote on a text that didn’t condemn Hamas.
“I am horrified that a few council members still cannot bring themselves to condemn the barbaric Hamas terror attack against Israel,” Greenfield said.
President Joe Biden said on November 16, in a press conference in California after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping that Israel faces little pressure from the US to rein in its invasion of the Gaza Strip.
“The war will stop when Hamas no longer maintains the capacity to murder, abuse, and just do horrific things to Israel,” Biden said.
The resolution is the first one to be passed by the UN Security Council since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, which killed 1200 people, and the Israel retaliation on Gaza, which has killed more than 11,000 people in the last five weeks.