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UN council delays vote on demand for Gaza humanitarian ceasefire

UN council delays vote on demand for Gaza humanitarian ceasefire

World

UN council delays vote on demand for Gaza humanitarian ceasefire

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A UN Security Council vote on a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war was delayed by several hours on Friday until after a planned meeting between Arab ministers and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The United States - a veto-wielding power on the council - has said it does not currently support further action by the 15-member body on the conflict between its ally Israel and the Islamist militant group Hamas in Gaza, a Palestinian enclave. The council last month called for pauses in fighting to allow aid access.

The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas in a deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

"While the United States strongly supports a durable peace, in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support calls for an immediate ceasefire," Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the council.

"This would only plant the seeds for the next war because Hamas has no desire to see a durable peace," he said.

The council was now due to vote on a resolution drafted by the United Arab Emirates at 5.30 p.m. (2230 GMT) - just after Blinken meets in Washington with ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey.

"Today this council will vote, it will have an opportunity to respond to the deafening calls across the world to bring this violence to an end," Deputy UAE Ambassador to the UN Mohamed Abushahab told the council.

To be adopted, a Security Council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the five permanent members - the United States, Russia, China, France or Britain.

'SPARE NO EFFORT'

While the vote was delayed, the council still convened Friday morning to hear a briefing by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after he made a rare move on Wednesday to formally warn the body of a global threat from the war.

"I urge the council to spare no effort to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, for the protection of civilians, and for the urgent delivery of lifesaving aid," said Guterres - who has long called for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said there had been a ceasefire that was broken by Hamas on Oct. 7.

"The irony is that regional stability and the security of both Israelis and Gazans can only be achieved once Hamas is eliminated, not one minute before," Erdan said. "So the true path to ensure peace is only through supporting Israel's mission - absolutely not to call for a ceasefire."

Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 240 people taken hostage during the Oct. 7 cross-border assault by Hamas. Israel has focused its retaliation against Hamas in Gaza, bombarding it from the air, imposing a siege and launching a ground offensive.

Gaza's Health Ministry says that so far, 17,170 people have been killed. The vast majority of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes.

The US offered substantial amendments to the UAE-drafted resolution to be voted on Friday, including a condemnation of the Hamas attacks. This was not added to the text.

The draft was amended to say both "the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law" and to "demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages".