US proposes UN resolution supporting temporary ceasefire in Gaza

The draft also says a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians

By Reuters

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Members of the Palestinian civil defence extinguish a fire in a building following Israeli bombardments east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP
Members of the Palestinian civil defence extinguish a fire in a building following Israeli bombardments east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP

Published: Mon 19 Feb 2024, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Feb 2024, 11:05 PM

The United States has proposed a rival draft UN Security Council resolution that would underscore the body's "support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable", according to the text seen by Reuters on Monday.

Washington has been averse to the word ceasefire in any UN action on the Israel-Hamas war, but the US draft text echoes language that President Joe Biden said he used last week in conversations with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


The US draft text also "determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighbouring countries."

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Israel plans to storm Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than 1 million Palestinians have sought shelter, prompting international concern that such a move would sharply worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The draft US resolution says such a move "would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances."

It was not immediately clear when or if the draft resolution would be put to a vote in the 15-member council.

The US put forward the text after Algeria on Saturday requested the council vote on Tuesday on its draft resolution, which would demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield quickly signalled that it would be vetoed.

Washington traditionally shields its ally Israel from UN action and has already twice vetoed council resolutions since October 7. But it has also abstained twice, allowing the council to adopt resolutions that aimed to boost humanitarian aid to Gaza and called for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in fighting.

The US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar are seeking to negotiate a pause in the war and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Algeria put forward an initial draft resolution more than two weeks ago. But Thomas-Greenfield said the text could jeopardize the "sensitive negotiations" on the hostages.

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