UN Security Council Passes Diluted Resolution on Gaza War

After US veto threats, the UN’s most powerful body passed a resolution that called for more aid in Gaza, but no ceasefire.

Washington strong-armed the UN Security Council to remove all meaningful language from a resolution about the war in Gaza. The resolution initially called for a ceasefire and an expedited aid delivery system in Gaza.

On Friday, the UN Security Council passed a 16-point resolution that includes “calls for urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access and to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.”

Trita Parsi, executive vice president at the Responsible Statecraft, slammed the White House for crafting a “meaningless” resolution. Throughout the negotiations “the resolution became increasingly meaningless. Biden managed to delete the call for suspension of hostilities as well as the establishment of a robust UN inspection mechanism in Gaza,” in a post on X. “Biden’s changes will help ensure that Israel’s slaughter in Gaza continues while minimizing the UN’s insight into what increasingly appears to be a genocide.”

On Monday, the UAE proposed a motion that called for “urgent suspension of hostilities” and the creation of an inspection system for humanitarian aid entering Gaza run by the UN Secretary-General’s office. However, Washington threatened to veto the resolution in a show of support for Tel Aviv.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan were personally involved in the negotiations over the language. The US issued “red lines” that would invoke a veto, according to Axios.

The UAE-sponsored motion was delayed daily as the language was watered down in an effort to remove the American veto threat. The result, after five days of delays, was a nearly meaningless resolution. “The language around creating conditions for a cessation of hostilities is incredibly opaque,” Richard Gowan, UN director at the International Crisis Group, said. “The language around the coordinator is pure garble. There is still the nod to the idea of a UN humanitarian mechanism, but it is so blurry that it gives the UN very little guidance or leverage.”

Following the vote, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters that the resolution did not address critical issues. “The real problem is that the way Israel is conducting this offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza,” he explained. “An effective aid operation in Gaza requires security, staff who can work in safety, logistical capacity, and the resumption of commercial activity. These four elements do not exist.”

The 15-member UN Security Council voted 13-0 in favor of the resolution. After the language was watered down to Washington’s liking, the White House abstained. While the US abstained, Israel announced support for the resolution. Israel’s UN envoy, Gilad Erdan, said that it “maintains Israel’s security authority to monitor and inspect aid entering Gaza.” He went on to thank President Joe Biden for “standing firm on Israel’s side throughout the negotiations and maintaining the defined red lines.”

Russia also abstained; however, Moscow objected to the watering down of the language and called for a return to the resolution proposed on Monday. “By signing off on this, the council would essentially be giving the Israeli armed forces complete freedom of movement for further clearing of the Gaza Strip,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said. Moscow insists the UN Security Council should revert to the initial text calling for “an urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, asked the body to back the Russian proposal. “What we are dealing with is an attempt at the destruction of our people, and their displacement forever from their land. This is Israel’s goal, it’s true objective. No future for Palestinians in Palestine,” he told the UN Security Council.

The resolution also included language that was supported by Washington and Tel Aviv, such as the call for releasing hostages. “Today, this council made clear that all hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally and that humanitarian groups must be able to access hostages, including for medical visits,” US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said following the vote.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the Security Council’s decision “is correct in its call to make sure that the UN is required to streamline its transfer of humanitarian aid, and ensure that it reaches its destination and not Hamas.”

Israel’s top diplomat went on to say that Tel Aviv has no plans to end military operations in Gaza soon. Cohen said Israel will “continue the war until the release of all hostages and the elimination of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”

Erdan also said, “The UN’s focus on aid mechanisms to Gaza is unnecessary and disconnected from reality.” Currently, 25% of people in Gaza are starving, according to human rights groups. Additionally, the medical system has been devastated, and disease has started to spread quickly. Already, there have been over 100,000 cases of diarrhea and 150,000 upper respiratory infections reported.

At least 20,000 Palestinians, including 14,200 women and children, have been killed by the IDF since October 7. Several international humanitarian organizations have identified war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza. Even President Biden acknowledged that the Israeli bombing of Gaza is “indiscriminate.”

The White House has remained firm in its opposition to any calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. Additionally, the Biden administration has refused to place any condition on the aid it gives to Israel and acted as a guardian of Tel Aviv at the UN Security Council. The US previously used its veto to kill a resolution calling for a ceasefire.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.