US proposes UN resolution for temporary Gaza ceasefire, opposes Rafah assault

A view shows houses and buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes in Gaza City, October 10, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

WASHINGTON — The United States has proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict and opposing a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, as revealed in a document seen and reported by Reuters.

This proposal follows the U.S. indication that it would veto an Algerian-drafted resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

The U.S. expressed concerns that the Algerian resolution might undermine ongoing talks involving the U.S., Egypt, Israel, and Qatar, which aim to broker a ceasefire and secure the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Previously, the U.S. had been reluctant to support the term “ceasefire” in any UN action related to the Israel-Hamas conflict. However, the new U.S. draft resolution reflects President Joe Biden’s recent discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The resolution would express the Security Council’s support for “a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable,” contingent on the release of all hostages and the removal of barriers to large-scale humanitarian aid.

A senior U.S. administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, mentioned on Monday that the U.S. does not plan to rush the vote to allow time for further negotiations. For adoption, the resolution requires a minimum of nine affirmative votes and no vetoes from the five permanent members of the Security Council: the U.S., France, Britain, Russia, or China.

The draft text by the U.S. highlights concerns that a major Israeli ground offensive into Rafah, where over 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge, could exacerbate the humanitarian crisis and potentially displace civilians into neighboring countries. The UN has warned that such an assault “could lead to a slaughter.” The draft emphasizes the potential regional peace and security implications and advises against such an offensive under current conditions.

The U.S. has historically protected Israel from UN actions and has vetoed council resolutions twice since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. However, it has also abstained twice, allowing resolutions that supported increased aid to Gaza and called for extended pauses in fighting to pass.