After intense diplomacy to avert US veto, UNSC adopts resolution calling for increased aid to Gaza

To appease the US, the resolution refrains from mentioning a ceasefire, focusing on creating conditions for a "sustainable cessation of hostilities."

Representative image of Gaza (Photo: DW)
Representative image of Gaza (Photo: DW)


After four days of intense diplomacy to avert a US veto, the UN Security Council on Friday, 22 December, adopted a resolution to increase aid delivery to Gaza, where the UN says a dire humanitarian crisis is unfolding.

The US, facing isolation internationally and dissent within President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, agreed not to veto the resolution and abstained after it had been modified to meet Washington's demands.

Russia also abstained on the resolution after the US vetoed Moscow’s amendment to reinstate a call for a “suspension of hostilities”, which had originally been proposed.

Proposed by the United Arab Emirates, the resolution, in deference to the US, avoided any mention of a ceasefire or even a pause in fighting that Israel opposes, and instead, it called for steps "to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities".

The resolution called "for urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access” and to “facilitate the use of all available routes to and throughout the entire Gaza Strip".

Where the resolution moves the conditions for the supply of aid further is its call for the creation of a UN mechanism to speed up the delivery of aid with an official appointed by Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

A proposal for a UN mechanism to inspect the aid going to Gaza instead of Israel was removed at US insistence.

The resolution deplored "all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as all violence and hostilities against civilians, and all acts of terrorism" and called for the unconditional release of hostages.

Guterres, who pressed for a humanitarian ceasefire that was denied in the resolution, told reporters after the vote: "You can see always glasses are full or empty.

"I hope that today's resolution will make people understand that a humanitarian ceasefire is indeed something that is needed if we want humanitarian aid to be effectively delivered."

Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said the resolution was "extremely neutered" by the compromises to avoid the US veto. Although the US abstained on the vote, Permanent Representative Linda Thomas Greenfield said: "It took many days, and many, many long nights of negotiating to get this right, but today, this Council provided a glimmer of hope amongst a sea of unimaginable suffering.

"Today, this Council made clear that addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza needs to remain at the forefront of our agenda."

The resolution’s call for all parties to adhere to international humanitarian law, she said, applies "to Israel, but also, to Hamas, a terror group that instigated this conflict and that wages war from inside homes and hospitals and UN sites and uses innocent civilians as human shields, an act of cowardice and cruelty".

Friday’s resolution was the sixth to come before the Council since the Hamas terror strike on Israel that killed about 1,200 people took about 240 people hostage on October 7, and Israel's retaliation that has resulted in about 20,000 deaths, mostly of civilians in Gaza.

Two resolutions have passed, two were vetoed by the US, one by Russia and another by Russia and China, showing the deep polarisation.

Biden’s administration is caught between its loyalty to Israel and the growing disenchantment within his party with Israel and calls for a ceasefire. Faced with this dilemma, the US allowed the resolution to be adopted after four days of negotiations that delayed the vote originally expected on Monday.

The US could not veto a resolution for the third time because of the growing support for a humanitarian ceasefire among nations – only nine countries joined the US in opposing a General Assembly resolution calling for it last week – and more Democrats saying they sympathise with Palestine.

And, yet, it could not support a resolution that Israel opposed.

A New York Times poll published this week found that 34 per cent of Democrats said they sympathised with Palestine and 31 per cent with Israel; in the 18-29 age group, a crucial base of support for Biden, it was 46 per cent for Palestine.

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