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UN Security Council vote on new Gaza ceasefire text postponed to Monday: diplomats


A vote at the United Nations Security Council on a new text calling for an "immediate" ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict was postponed to Monday, diplomatic sources told AFP, after a separate, U.S.-lead draft resolution was vetoed.

The United States, Israel's main ally and military backer, had put forward a resolution mentioning "the imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire" and condemning the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Russia and China on Friday vetoed that resolution, which was also opposed by Arab states for stopping short of explicitly demanding Israel immediately end its campaign in Gaza.

The new ceasefire text was meant to go to a vote on Saturday, but was pushed back to allow further discussions, the diplomatic sources said.

The new, tougher draft resolution, seen by AFP, "demands an immediate ceasefire" for the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan that leads "to a permanent sustainable ceasefire" respected by all sides.

Eight of the council's 10 non-permanent members have been working on the draft, which also calls for the "immediate and unconditional" release of hostages seized by Hamas and the lifting of "all barriers" to humanitarian aid flowing into the besieged Gaza Strip.

"We as (the) Arab Group unanimously endorse and support the draft resolution," said Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, who had denounced the U.S.-led text as biased.

But U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield indicated opposition, saying the resolution would jeopardize ongoing diplomatic efforts to secure the release of hostages – the same reason the United States gave before vetoing previous ceasefire resolutions.

Friday's text did not explicitly use the word "call," but simply stated that a ceasefire was imperative, and linked to ongoing talks, led by Qatar with support from the United States and Egypt, to halt fighting in return for Hamas releasing hostages.

During his explanatory statement following Friday's vote, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, said the U.S. draft resolution essentially green-lights continued killing by setting preconditions for a ceasefire in Gaza.

If the U.S. was serious about a ceasefire, it wouldn't have vetoed time and again multiple Security Council resolutions, and "wouldn't have taken such a detour and played a game of words while being ambiguous and evasive on critical issues," said Zhang.

He continued to urge the U.S. to act to support a ceasefire.

"If the U.S. is serious about a ceasefire, then please vote in favor of the other draft resolution clearly calling for a ceasefire, so that a ceasefire can be finally and immediately achieved, the Palestinians' sufferings ended, and hostages released at an early date," said Zhang.

More than 1,160 people, mostly civilians, died on October 7 when Hamas militants infiltrated Israel in the country's deadliest attack, according to Israeli official figures.

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. More than 32,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the retaliatory campaign, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The United Nations has warned of imminent famine in the strip.

Read more:

China vetoes U.S.-drafted Gaza resolution, calls for unconditional ceasefire

Guterres: Imminent famine in Gaza is 'entirely manmade disaster'

(With input from AFP)

(Cover: People inspect a destroyed building after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, March 22, 2024. /Xinhua)

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