UN Security Council demands immediate ceasefire in Gaza after US abstains

The United Nations Security Council on Monday called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian militants Hamas, alongside the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, following the United States’ decision to abstain from the vote.

The resolution, proposed by the 10 elected members of the council, garnered the support of the remaining 14 council members.

“The Palestinian people have suffered greatly. This bloodbath has continued for far too long. It is our obligation to put an end to this bloodbath, before it is too late,” Algeria’s U.N. Ambassador Amar Bendjama stated following the vote.

Israeli army radio reported just before the council meeting commenced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would cancel a planned visit to Washington if the U.S. did not veto the resolution. Previously, Washington had been hesitant to support a ceasefire in the nearly six-month-old conflict in the Gaza Strip, using its veto power to shield its ally Israel as it responded to a Hamas attack on Oct. 7, which Israel reports resulted in 1,200 deaths.

However, amid escalating global calls for a ceasefire in the conflict that has claimed over 32,000 Palestinian lives, the U.S. abstained, enabling the Security Council to advocate for an immediate ceasefire during the remaining two weeks of Ramadan. The resolution also demands the prompt and unconditional release of all hostages, with Israel reporting that Hamas took 253 hostages in its Oct. 7 attack.

“The United States’ support for these objectives is not simply rhetorical. We’re working around the clock to make them real on the ground through diplomacy, because we know that it is only through diplomacy that we can push this agenda forward,” remarked U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “A ceasefire can begin immediately with the release of the first hostage, and so we must put pressure on Hamas to do just that,” she added.

The U.S. has previously vetoed three draft council resolutions concerning the war in Gaza and abstained twice, permitting the adoption of resolutions aimed at increasing aid to Gaza and calling for extended pauses in the fighting. Russia and China have also vetoed two U.S.-drafted resolutions on the conflict, in October and the preceding Friday.