US Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield abstains, during a vote on a Gaza resolution that demands an immediate ceasefire for Ramadan leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, at UN headquarters in New York City, on March 25, 2024. Image Credit: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council on Monday demanded an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages after the United States abstained from the vote.

The remaining 14 council members voted for the resolution, which was proposed by the 10 elected members of the body.

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Washington had been averse to the word ceasefire earlier in the nearly six-month-old war in the Gaza Strip and had used its veto power to shield US ally Israel as it retaliated against Hamas for an October 7 attack that Israel says killed 1,200 people.

But amid growing global pressure for a truce in the war that has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians, the US abstained from the vote on Monday to allow the Security Council to demand an immediate ceasefire for Ramadan, which ends in two weeks.

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It also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. Israel says Hamas took 253 hostages during its October 7 attack.

The Security Council resolution also “emphasizes the urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to and reinforce the protection of civilians in the entire Gaza Strip and reiterates its demand for the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale.”

Netanyahu's stance

Israeli army radio reported shortly before the council meeting started that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would cancel a planned delegation to Washington if the US did not veto the resolution.

The US has vetoed three draft council resolutions on the war in Gaza. It has also previously abstained twice, allowing the council to adopt resolutions that aimed to boost aid to Gaza and called for extended pauses in fighting.

“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,” said US Ambassador to the UN 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 said.

Thomas-Greenfield said the US abstained from the vote because it did not agree with everything in the resolution and the text did not include a condemnation of Hamas.