UN Security Council votes down Russia resolution calling for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

UN Security Council votes down Russia resolution calling for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza
British Ambassador to the United Nations Barbara Woodward and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield vote against the resolution. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 October 2023
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UN Security Council votes down Russia resolution calling for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

UN Security Council votes down Russia resolution calling for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza
  • Those who voted against the resolution have cited Russia’s failure to mention Hamas
  • US envoy called on countries in the region to allow humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza

NEW YORK: A resolution proposed by Russia calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza and the release of “all hostages” has failed to receive enough votes to be adopted by the 15-member UN Security Council, with members who voted against it or abstained citing its failure to mention Hamas and condemn the group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israeli towns.  

On Monday, Russia, China, the UAE, Gabon and Mozambique voted in favor, while the US, UK, France and Japan voted against. Brazil, Malta, Albania, Switzerland, Ecuador and Ghana abstained.  

The resolution had been backed by the UN Arab Group of countries, whose ambassadors were all present at the council meeting.  

A vote on a rival, draft resolution from Brazil was delayed until Tuesday, Arab News has learned.  

Russia’s resolution, seen by Arab News, expresses “grave concern” at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation, in particular the resulting heavy civilian casualties, underscoring the need for both populations to be protected.  

It also expressed grave concern at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and called for “an immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire.” 

The draft also condemns “all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism,” and calls for the “secure release of all hostages.” 

Russia also called for the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medical treatment as well as creating conditions for the safe evacuation of civilians in need.  

Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, after the vote claimed the council had once again been held “hostage” to the “selfish intentions of the Western bloc of countries.” 

He said: “Today, the entire world waited with bated breath for the Security Council to take steps in order to put an end to the bloodletting. But the delegations of the Western countries have basically stomped on those expectations. We believe that today’s vote in the Security Council is very, very demonstrative. It clearly shows who are in favor of a truce to stop the indiscriminate bombing and provision of humanitarian assistance and who is still in favor of blocking a single common message from the Security Council for purely selfish interests and political interests.”  

Linda Thomas Greenfield, the US’ permanent representative to the UN, said that by failing to mention Hamas, Russia has dishonored the victims of the Oct. 7 attack.  

“By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians. It is outrageous, it is hypocritical, and it is indefensible,” Thomas-Greenfield said.  

She blamed Hamas as solely responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and said “we cannot allow this Council to unfairly shift the blame to Israel and excuse Hamas for its decades of cruelty. Period.” 

The US envoy said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the White House are engaged in “intensive discussions” with the Israeli government and countries in the region to secure the “immediate and unconditional” release of hostages and facilitate humanitarian access and relief. 

 “It is critical that civilians have access to essential food, water, medicine, and shelter. Let me repeat: It is critical,” Thomas-Greenfield said, as she called on countries in the region to allow “full, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access in Gaza — in line with the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence.” 

Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s envoy, who voted for Russia’s resolution, reiterated her country’s condemnation of the murder of innocent Israeli civilians and the taking hostage of children, and said that Hamas does not represent the people of Gaza who are “suffering tremendously today.”  

“And that is why Council unity is so desperately needed on this file,” Nusseibeh said, as she emphasized the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. “We believe this council should be able to find unity on two things: International humanitarian law must be upheld, indiscriminate attacks must be rejected and are unjustifiable, and the cycle of violence overall must end.  

“The events of the last nine days have made it painfully clear that without a determined political horizon, the specter of bloodshed will continue to haunt both Israelis and Palestinians.”  

Evoking the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, she said that “a life only defined by the absence of its antithesis, death, is no life at all.

“Palestinians and Israelis deserve not only to live which is the bare minimum, but to thrive, side by side in their own independent, prosperous and secure states.” 

China’s UN representative Jhang Zun, who also voted in favor of Russia’s resolution, expressed regret that council members failed to vote on the draft which had garnered support from the UN Arab Group.  

“Humanitarian issues should not be politicized,” he said.  


Bahrain and Iran agree to start talks on resuming political relations

Bahrain and Iran agree to start talks on resuming political relations
Updated 39 sec ago
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Bahrain and Iran agree to start talks on resuming political relations

Bahrain and Iran agree to start talks on resuming political relations
  • Bahrain’s minister of foreign affairs Abdullatif Al-Zayani and Iran’s acting foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani met in Tehran

LONDON: Bahrain and Iran agreed on Sunday to start talks aimed at resuming political relations between the two countries, Bahrain News Agency reported.

A joint statement was released after a meeting that brought together Bahrain’s minister of foreign affairs Abdullatif Al-Zayani and Iran’s acting foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani in Tehran.

According to the statement carried by BNA, the discussions were held “within the framework of the historical fraternal relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the ties of religion, neighborhood, common history and mutual interests between them.”


Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’

Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’
Updated 26 min 39 sec ago
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Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’

Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’
  • “The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel’s pro-Netanyahu Channel 14

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the Israeli military’s heavy fighting against Hamas militants in the southern Gaza city of Rafah is nearly over.
Netanyahu, in his first interview with an Israeli network since the war with Hamas broke out on October 7, said troops would soon be deployed to the northern border with Lebanon but for “defensive purposes.”
“The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel’s pro-Netanyahu Channel 14.
“It doesn’t mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah,” he said.
“After the end of the intense phase, we will be able to redeploy some forces to the north, and we will do that. Primarily for defensive purposes but also to bring the (displaced) residents back home,” Netanyahu said.
Tens of thousands of Israelis have been displaced from northern Israel which has seen near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah militants since the war in Gaza began.
Netanyahu said he would not agree to any deal that stipulates an end to the war in Gaza, indicating that he was open to a “partial” deal that would facilitate the return of some hostages still held there, if not all.
“The goal is to return the kidnapped and uproot the Hamas regime in Gaza,” he said.
United States officials have raised doubts over Israel’s goal of completely destroying Hamas, and on Wednesday Israel’s top army spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said Hamas cannot be eliminated.
“To say that we are going to make Hamas disappear is to throw sand in people’s eyes,” Hagari said.
He said Hamas is an ideology and “we cannot eliminate an ideology.”
When asked about the post-war situation in Gaza, Netanyahu said Israel will have a role to play in the near term.
“It’s clear military control in the foreseeable future will be ours,” he said, before giving his most-detailed comments yet on the post-war situation.
Earlier this month two war cabinet members Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot left the government after Netanyahu failed to deliver a post-war plan for Gaza as demanded by Gantz.
The United States has also pointed to the need for a post-war plan that would help ensure Israel’s long-term security.
“We also want to create a civilian administration, if possible with local Palestinians, and maybe with external backing from countries in the region, to manage humanitarian supply and later on civilian affairs in the Strip,” the prime minister said.
“At the end of it, there’s two things that need to happen: we need ongoing demilitarization by the IDF (army) and the establishment of a civilian administration.”
The Gaza Strip has been gripped by more than eight months of war since Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Militants took 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.
Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has since killed at least 37,598 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.
Tens of thousands of Israelis have consistently rallied against Netanyahu and his government, demanding early elections and a deal to return hostages.
But Netanyahu said that if his government falls, “a left-wing government will be established here, which will do something immediately: establish a Palestinian state that is a Palestinian terrorist state that will endanger our existence.”


Jordanian, German officials discuss ties, Palestinian cause

Jordanian, German officials discuss ties, Palestinian cause
Updated 23 June 2024
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Jordanian, German officials discuss ties, Palestinian cause

Jordanian, German officials discuss ties, Palestinian cause
  • Safadi expressed his gratitude for Germany’s support in managing the Syrian refugee crisis

AMMAN: Jordan’s lower house speaker met the vice president of the German parliament on Sunday to discuss ties, Jordan News Agency reported.

In his meeting with Aydan Ozoguz, Speaker Ahmed Safadi highlighted the “strong and multifaceted” ties between Jordan and Germany, and called for increased cooperation.

He expressed his gratitude for Germany’s support in managing the Syrian refugee crisis, highlighting the significant burden Jordan bears due to regional instability and the influx of refugees.

During the meeting, Safadi warned that the failure to achieve the Palestinian right to an independent state remains a major source of regional instability.

Ozoguz agreed on the importance of German-Jordanian relations and said that her visit aimed to build mutual trust. She highlighted Germany’s commitment to collaborating with Jordan to develop viable solutions to regional challenges, with the ultimate goal of achieving a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Khaldoun Haynam, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, also addressed the meeting, highlighting the importance of adequate international support for Jordan.

He praised Jordan’s efforts in assisting refugees and urged the international community to support the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees so that it can continue to help Palestinian refugees.
 


Without food or toys, a Gaza family tries to survive

Without food or toys, a Gaza family tries to survive
Updated 23 June 2024
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Without food or toys, a Gaza family tries to survive

Without food or toys, a Gaza family tries to survive
  • Desperate mothers fight for their survival with no end to the conflict in sight

JABALIA: Surrounded by a sea of rubble, the Palestinian Al-Balawi family in northern Gaza hang blankets above the ruins of their home to create a makeshift tent that provides shade from the searing summer heat.

The family are struggling to feed themselves in the Jabalia refugee camp after the nearly nine months of war that have followed Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack.

Gazans are suffering from severe shortages of supplies, including food and water, alongside Israel’s bombardment of the territory, forcing desperate mothers like Umm Siraj Al-Balawi to fight for their survival with no end to the conflict in sight.

“There are no vegetables or fruits. No vitamin intake. When you get sick, you stay in bed for two or three weeks to recover,” said the 33-year-old.

“This war must stop because it is a war of displacement. It is a war of annihilation.”

Jabalia has been hit particularly hard in recent weeks, with Israeli forces carrying out a massive bombardment campaign, part of a fierce ground offensive in northern Gaza — an area the military had previously said was out of the control of Hamas militants.

Israeli forces retrieved the bodies of some hostages from Jabalia and, in May, reported “perhaps the fiercest” fighting there since the start of the war.

Desperation among Gaza’s 2.4 million population has increased as the fighting has raged, with warnings from humanitarian agencies that they are unable to deliver aid.

Vital food supplies have piled up and are undistributed on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, a key conduit for aid to enter Gaza.

Israel says it has let supplies in and called on agencies to step up distribution, while aid organizations, including the UN, say they have been unable to pick up supplies because of a breakdown in civil order in Gaza.

The war broke out after the Oct. 7 attack.

The misery of Gazans has only been exacerbated by Israel’s bombing raids, which it says are to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas.

On Saturday, at least 24 people died after huge strikes in two Gaza City neighborhoods.

The strikes left several residential complexes in rubble, while the Israeli military said it had targeted two Hamas military infrastructure sites.

“People are getting displaced from house to house, tent to tent, school to school,” said Umm.

“They (Israelis) instructed people to head to Rafah before instructing them to evacuate Rafah. They are doing the same in Khan Younis. Until when?”

The Al-Balawi family’s dire situation leaves them scrabbling in a wasteland of debris for items like pillows and food.

“The situation was very, very difficult (before the war). And it worsened after the war,” said Umm’s husband Abu, 34.

He pulls a pink cushion from the wreckage of buildings, passing it to his wife, who beats it to clear it of dust.

Elsewhere, he uses a spade to claw back mounds of rubble before finding a red teddy bear for his young son.

He then leads his children through a destroyed street to get hold of much-sought-after water before heading back to their tent, where his children share some bread and beans from a bowl.

“There is a scarcity of food and water. We can barely find food for our children. Diseases have spread in all the areas where the displaced are gathered.”

The horrors of war are apparent for their nine-year-old boy Siraj, despite his age.

“We can’t find clothes. We have no clothes,” he complains.

“There are no toys,” he adds, holding up a damaged doll. “We have no house.”


Lebanese party on despite threat of war

Lebanese party on despite threat of war
Updated 23 June 2024
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Lebanese party on despite threat of war

Lebanese party on despite threat of war
  • Tensions have risen on the Israel-Lebanon frontier for almost two weeks
  • “This is Lebanon and this is our story. Nothing changes. We survived the July war”

BEIRUT: In the buzz of a trendy Beirut neighborhood, the din of bars and laughter blend together, far from the border violence with Israel further south and fears of all-out war.
“I’m 40 years old, and each year they tell us that war will break out this summer,” Elie, a financial consultant who did not give his last name, said in a bar in the Lebanese capital with other locals chatting beside him.
“What we see in the street is different from what we hear in the media,” he said. “What the foreign press is reporting makes people think that Lebanon is at war.”
Since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip on October 7, the Palestinian Islamist movement’s ally, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, has been exchanging nearly-daily fire with Israel over the border.
Tensions have risen on the Israel-Lebanon frontier for almost two weeks, after Israel’s killing of one of Hezbollah’s most important commanders.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of a catastrophe “beyond imagination,” and France and the United States have been working for de-escalation.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Hezbollah would be destroyed in “total war” and the country’s army approved “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon.”
The following day, the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, warned that “no place” in Israel would be spared by the group’s weapons in the event of full-blown war.
While the risk of the border conflict overflowing into the rest of the country comes up in conversations, it does not seem to bother the partiers in the Christian neighborhood of Mar Mikhael.
In the Beirut neighborhood well-known for its bars, lit-up with multi-colored lights, glasses clink and customers dance to the rhythm of remixed Arab and Western pop songs played at full blast by a DJ.
“This is Lebanon and this is our story. Nothing changes. We survived the July war,” Elie said, referring to a war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.
“In all the past crises, people continued to stay out late, whether during the Covid-19 pandemic or the explosion at Beirut port” in the summer of 2020.
The blast killed more than 200 people, destroyed swathes of the capital including Mar Mikhael, and accelerated the economy’s collapse.
Elsewhere in the city, locals brought their children to a street festival organized in the center of Beirut, carrying on late into the night.
“Despite all the threats, we are a people who love life,” Abir Atallah told AFP, amid the laughter of children in front of the stage.
While according to the United Nations more than 95,000 Lebanese have been displaced by the conflict around the Israel border, the spectre of war does not stop people in other parts of the country from living normally.
“We live day by day. Of course, people are afraid, but we rely on God,” said Mira Makhlouf, who sells toys for children.
“Lebanese love to party,” she said, adding that she has no intention of leaving the country if a full-scale war breaks out.
While the biggest events held every summer in Lebanon were canceled this year because of the conflict in the south, some organizations chose to continue with thir plans.
Arab singers are flocking to Lebanon to perform. More than 20,000 people in mid-June attended a concert in Beirut by Egyptian pop star Amr Diab.
Foreigners continue to travel to the country for the summer festival season, despite warnings from several countries that their citizens should not visit Lebanon.
“I do not think that a war will break out, and we are not afraid. Otherwise, we would not see this crowd,” Nayla Haddad said at the festival.
“Every two weeks, we organize a festival in a new place,” she said, smiling.