The war between Israel and Hamas deepens the division among the members of the UN Security Council | International
Since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7, meetings at the New York headquarters of the United Nations have taken place almost uninterruptedly, without the main UN body, the Security Council - in charge of ensuring for global peace and security - has reached any binding conclusion. One after another, the resolution proposals - theoretically binding in nature - to mitigate the effects of the conflict and, above all, protect the civilian population have been rejected. A draft resolution from Brazil, in favor of “humanitarian pauses”, vetoed last week by the US, has been followed by resolution proposals from the US and Russia, short-circuited between each other this Wednesday in a new demonstration of the division of the Council , palpable since the beginning of the Ukrainian war. To the obvious blockage of the Security Council, which has forced the convening of an emergency session of the General Assembly this Thursday - with a list of a hundred long speakers -, is added the diplomatic crisis opened by Israel by requesting the resignation of the secretary UN General António Guterres, for stating that the Gaza war “did not come out of nowhere” and that it has its roots in “56 years of suffocating Israeli occupation.”
This Wednesday the Council put the two aforementioned resolutions to a vote, the American one and the Russian one, without a positive result. The first called for establishing “humanitarian pauses” - the same as the Brazilian proposal that the US vetoed a week ago - and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself. But the text fell short, in the opinion of its detractors, because it did not appeal to a humanitarian ceasefire that the Joe Biden Administration believes could benefit Hamas to rearm or at least catch its breath after two weeks of intense bombing. The text was vetoed by Russia and China after receiving 10 votes in favor. The United States ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said she was disappointed by the rejection but also that she will continue negotiating. China argued for her veto by considering that the United States “has ignored the main concerns” of the majority of the 15 members of the Council and promoted a resolution that “does not reflect the world's strong calls for a ceasefire and [que] “It doesn’t help resolve the issue.” To approve a resolution - or exercise the veto to reject it if applicable - nine votes in favor must be counted.
In the case of the Russian proposal, in favor of “a humanitarian ceasefire” and the unhindered entry of aid into Gaza, it was not even necessary to resort to the veto power available to the five permanent members of the Council, since the The text only received three votes in favor (China, Gabon and the United Arab Emirates, in accordance with the common position of the Arab group), in addition to that of Russia itself. The United States and the United Kingdom were against it, and nine members of the Council abstained, including France, which deviates from the unanimity of the Atlantic axis in the Council. The US and the United Kingdom have very close, if not identical, approaches to both the Gaza war and the Ukraine war.
The votes were preceded by closed-door consultations, at the request of France, while Malta, on behalf of the 10 elected (non-permanent) members of the Council, the group known as E10, announced that it plans to present an alternative proposal in case the two mentioned will fail, as finally happened. The Maltese ambassador recalled the urgent need for the Council to “urgently and genuinely” address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, to achieve the entry of aid through a ceasefire, pauses or humanitarian corridors, the concepts in which the resolutions presented so far. The representative of Malta noted that the E10 will draft the draft in the coming days.
The dividing lines in the Security Council are increasingly marked, as is its paralysis in operational terms, despite the fact that it is the executive body of the UN. Hence the proliferation of initiatives such as that of Malta, pending substance, or another even more recent one by Jordan on behalf of a group of Arab countries. Aware of the Council's blockage, the sponsors of the Arab resolution propose referring the processing and eventual approval of the text to the General Assembly, of lower rank and with non-binding decisions. The Arabs call for an immediate ceasefire and Israel's revocation of the evacuation order from northern Gaza. It also firmly rejects any attempt to forcibly transfer civilians, in addition to underlining “the importance of preventing further destabilization and escalation of violence in the region.” A possible wave of Gazan refugees is of great concern to Egypt, their natural exit route, and to Jordan, where the memory of Black September 1970, when the Palestinians turned the country into their rearguard against Israel and came close to destabilizing the Hashemite monarchy, still survives.
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