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Security Council due to vote again on Gaza — Global Issues

10:50AM

The United States ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Robert Wood, told the meeting that the attacks by Hamas of October 7 “must be condemned” and the extremist group must not be allowed to control Gaza in the future.

Deputy Permanent Representative Robert A. Wood of the United States addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

United Nations

Deputy Permanent Representative Robert A. Wood of the United States addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

He said Israel must also be allowed to defend its people and the Houthi rebel group’s attacks off the coast of Yemen against international shipping must be countered.

He told the Council all must work towards a two-State solution.

He said the rise of hateful rhetoric matters “and we must do more to prevent this dangerous dehumanization”.

He said deaths and injuries of journalists on the frontline during this Gaza conflict were unacceptable: “In this moment more must be done to protect them”.

Finally, he said his mission had met Israeli’s whose loved ones are still be held captive in Hamas.

He said they would continue to share every hostage’s story, “until they are home”.

“We must hold space for the heartbreak on all sides”, he added.

10:45 AM

Major General Patrick Gauchat, head of UNTSO, took the floor to brief Council members.

He started off by noting that since UNTSO does not have a presence in or around Gaza or southern Israel, its personnel “were not in a position to observe” directly the events of 7 October or developments since then.

However, these events “have assuredly impacted our operations and regional dynamics”, he said.

“On the operational level, from 8 October many ceasefire violations have occurred across the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon and on the Golan between Israel and the Syria,” he added.

UNTSO explained

On 29 May 1948, the Security Council, in resolution 50 (1948), called for a cessation of hostilities in Palestine and decided that the truce should be supervised by the UN Mediator, with the assistance of a group of military observers.

The first group of military observers, which became known as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), was the first peacekeeping mission established by the United Nations. They remain in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other United Nations peacekeeping operations in the region.

10:33 AM

Humanitarian system ‘on the brink’: Wennesland

The first Council meeting on the Israel-Palestine crisis is now underway. the UN’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland has just been briefing Council members.

Tor Wennesland (right), UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

United Nations

Tor Wennesland (right), UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

He highlighted that as the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza rages on, “2023 ends as one of the deadliest in the history of this conflict, with the situation deteriorating on nearly all fronts.”

He also drew attention to the dire humanitarian situation across the Gaza Strip.

“The delivery of humanitarian aid in the Strip continues to face nearly insurmountable challenges. Amid displacement on an unimaginable scale and active hostilities, the humanitarian response system is on the brink,” he said.

Mr. Wennesland voiced “deep concerns” over escalating tensions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, noting “intensified armed exchanges” between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, predominantly in the context of Israeli operations, have led to exceedingly high levels of fatalities and arrests.

“I reiterate that security forces must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal fore only when it is strictly unavoidable to protect life,” he stressed.

He expressed alarm at the lethal attacks carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and by Palestinians against Israelis in the occupied West Bank and Israel.

All perpetrators of violence must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice,” he said.

The UN Special Coordinator said he was appalled at the numerous instances of officials glorifying violence and encouraging the killing of civilians.

Such rhetoric is abhorrent and must be clearly rejected by leaders on all sides. Leaders have an obligation to clearly and explicitly condemn acts of terror and violence directed against civilians,” he said.

10:30 AM

In response to continuing attacks by Houthi rebels off the Red Sea coast on international shipping which the rebel group says is in response to the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim has just issued a further statement:

“I condemn attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea area and I reiterate the strong commitment of IMO to protect seafarers, ships, and cargoes, which is of the utmost importance to ensure the safety and security of global supply chains. Attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea area are not acceptable. Ships must be allowed to trade worldwide unhindered, in accordance with international maritime law.

The rerouting of commercial shipping by several globally operating companies is a direct response to the current threat. These measures are aimed at protecting seafarers from harm and minimizing the potential economic impact on world trade, which is highly dependent on shipping.”

The IMO Secretariat is closely monitoring developments and communicating with relevant stakeholders, including the shipping industry, IMO Member States, and United Nations partners.

On Monday night, the United States said it was assembling an international protection force to help protect the vital trade route.

10:25 AM

The meeting is expected to start late morning on Tuesday, following Security Council meetings on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and another meeting on the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), originally established in 1948.

Since then, UNTSO military observers – based in Jerusalem – have remained in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other UN peacekeeping operations in the region.

Hopes for a new resolution

At the Security Council meeting on Gaza, Members are expected to vote on a draft resolution tabled by the United Arab Emirates, which expresses “deep concern at the dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in the enclave and its “grave impact” on civilians there, calling for “full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access into and throughout the entire Gaza Strip”.

The meeting, earlier scheduled for Monday afternoon (New York time) was postponed, ostensibly to give Council members more time to negotiate and find common ground.

Some of the changes following discussions include calling for “urgent steps towards a suspension of hostilities” – a crucial word change from Monday’s draft calling for a “cessation of hostilities”.

The draft resolution also takes note of the reopening of the Karem Abu Salem or Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel to speed up delivery of aid, emphasizing the need to “expand the delivery and distribution”.

It also “demands” the “immediate and unconditional release” of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical needs.

Recent action

The meeting comes on the heels of a resolution adopted with an overwhelming majority of 153 Member States in favour and 10 against, with 23 abstentions at the General Assembly, which met last Tuesday in an emergency special session.

In it, the Assembly “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and well as “ensuring humanitarian access”.

The General Assembly resolution was worded similarly as a draft resolution that was vetoed by the United States at the Security Council on 8 December.

The key points in common, include an immediate humanitarian ceasefire; demanding that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, notably regarding protection of civilians; and a demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access.


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