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UN Security Council endorses US-sponsored Gaza ceasefire resolution

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The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted a resolution endorsing a US-backed ceasefire proposal that aims to end Israel’s eight-month assault on Gaza.

The vote on the United States-sponsored resolution on Monday was 14-0, with Russia abstaining.

The resolution welcomes a three-phase ceasefire proposal announced by US President Joe Biden last month, which calls for an initial six-week ceasefire and the exchange of some Israeli captives held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

The second phase would include a permanent ceasefire and the release of the remaining captives. The third phase would involve a reconstruction effort for the devastated Gaza Strip.

The US says Israel has accepted the proposal, although some Israeli officials have since promised to continue the war until the elimination of Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs Gaza.

The resolution calls on Hamas, which initially said it viewed the proposal “positively”, to accept the three-phase plan.

It urges Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition”.

Hamas was quick to welcome the resolution on Monday. In a statement after the vote, Hamas said it was ready to cooperate with mediators and enter indirect negotiations over the implementation of the principles of the agreement.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said the UNSC passed the resolution “overwhelmingly and it is binding in international law”.

The “big question moving forward”, Elizondo said, is whether it be enforced and implemented.

“The US has said very clearly that Israel has agreed to this. So that puts quite a lot of pressure on Israel to abide by this.”

US deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters earlier that the US wanted to make sure all 15 UNSC members were on board to support what he described as “the best, most realistic opportunity to bring at least a temporary halt to this war”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously said that Biden presented only parts of the proposal and insisted that any talk of a permanent ceasefire before dismantling Hamas’s military and governing capabilities was a non-starter.

Hamas has frequently said that any deal must lead to a permanent ceasefire, a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, an end to the Israeli siege of Gaza, reconstruction and “a serious exchange deal” between captives in Gaza and Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

The UNSC adopted a resolution on March 25 demanding a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended April 9, with the US abstaining. But there was no halt to the offensive.

Three-phase plan

Biden’s May 31 announcement of the new ceasefire proposal said it would begin with a six-week ceasefire and the release of captives held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza and the return of Palestinian civilians to all areas in the territory.

The resolution goes into detail about the proposal and spells out that “if the negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the ceasefire will still continue as long as negotiations continue”.

Phase one also requires the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance “at scale throughout the Gaza Strip”, which Biden said would lead to 600 trucks with aid entering Gaza every day.

In phase two, the resolution says that with the agreement of Israel and Hamas, “a permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” will take place.

Phase three would launch “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families”.

The resolution reiterates the UNSC’s “unwavering commitment to achieving the vision of a negotiated two-state solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders”.

It also stresses “the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority”, something Netanyahu’s right-wing government has not agreed to.

Alon Liel, the former director of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Israeli government “was taken by surprise” by the resolution.

“The resolution is giving new content to the Blinken visit here. I think there will be a very hectic morning discussing it tomorrow,” Liel told Al Jazeera.

“Israel is not standing behind its own proposal and definitely not the draft proposal submitted by the Americans,” he said.

“Our ambassador tried in the last 48 hours to change the text and was unable to do it. So Israel definitely doesn’t like this resolution… If Israel will openly reject it, the pressure will grow internationally,” Liel added.

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