Israel-Palestine conflict: UN Security Council faces fresh delay

Negotiations continue in hopes of arranging a UN Security Council meeting and vote on the fighting in Gaza, but no appointment's set and several tentative targets have been missed

The latest resolution seeking a cease-fire in Gaza was proposed by the United Arab Emirates (representative image) (photo: National Herald archives)
The latest resolution seeking a cease-fire in Gaza was proposed by the United Arab Emirates (representative image) (photo: National Herald archives)


UN Security Council Gaza postponed once more

A planned United Nations Security Council vote on a cease-fire resolution for Gaza has been delayed yet again. 

The vote, originally scheduled for Monday, 18 December was postponed several times throughout Tuesday, 19 December as members sought to find language they could agree upon regarding hostilities between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas.

The US, an Israeli ally and permanent Security Council member with veto power, has objected to the use of the word "cease-fire" in the past and requested to delay the vote until Wednesday. 

News outlet AFP cited diplomatic sources at the UN as saying the latest wording calls for a "suspension" of hostilities. 

US National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday said: "We're still working through the modalities of the resolution. It's important for us that the rest of the world understand what's at stake here and what Hamas did on October 7 and how Israel has a right to defend itself against those threats."

Hamas, labeled a terror organization by Israel, the US, the EU, Germany and others, attacked Israel on October 7, killing nearly 1,200 people of all ages, most of them civilians.

They also took 240 individuals hostage, many of whom are still being held in Gaza.

But global pressure has been building on Israel to end its hostilities that have led to the deaths of nearly 20,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children.

Even the US has made calls for more protections for people in Gaza, despite vetoing a previous UN Security Council resolution calling for an "immediate humanitarian cease-fire."

This week's push for a Security Council vote was put forth by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after the 193-member UN General Assembly last week voted 153-10 in favor of a non-binding resolution (with 23 abstentions) calling for a halt to hostilities.

Since the first draft of the Security Council resolution was presented on Sunday its wording has been repeatedly watered down. The latest draft in circulation calls for "the urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps toward a sustainable cessation of hostilities."

It also calls for "the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages," and the unhindered delivery of aid, with enhanced international monitoring.

Although the text condemns attacks against civilians and acts of terrorism it does not mention Hamas by name, something that has angered the US in previous iterations.

WHO representative: Gaza casualty figures 'an underestimate'

Margaret Harris of the World Health Organization told DW on Tuesday, 19 December that the casualty figures coming out of Gaza were lower than the actual number of dead.

"If anything, they're an underestimate. Because at the moment, the way casualties, especially deaths are counted: You certify somebody dead, you count the people in the morgue. Now, the morgues are in hospitals. We've only got seven or eight hospitals functioning in any shape or form at the moment. So, if anything, what we're hearing is an underestimate." 

The veracity of numbers released by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has repeatedly been called into question by Israel which says Hamas doesn't distinguish between fighters and civilians but Harris claimed they could be trusted.

"You also look at who died and how old they were. 70% of them are women and children," Harris said. "We've got something like 8,000 children killed now and the hospitals are full of injured children."

Harris voiced disappointment that the international community had not "stopped the hostilities" and found a way to negotiate the release of hostages taken by Hamas in its October 7 terror attack, saying, "There was much, much, much more that should have been done by negotiation. Not through violence." 

Harris said she was in no position to propose answers to resolving political impasses as she is a doctor and not a diplomat, but she warned: "Currently our international system is failing. And is certainly failing in terms of health because we're seeing this terrible loss, these terrible injuries."

"If those children — who have lost their limbs, they have their skin burned — survive their injuries, they're going to be disabled for life. You know, we are creating a generation of very deeply, deeply harmed people. And that is not something we as the world can afford to have happen." 

Germany delivers tents, other aid to Gaza

Germany's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday claimed it was working to "stabilize" the situation in beleaguered Gaza, announcing the delivery of 120 large tents to al-Arish in Egypt.

Special Representative Deike Potzel appeared in a Foreign Ministry video posted on social media, announcing that a German Bundeswehr plane had just arrived with the first of three deliveries expected in the coming days — a consignment of tents.

Two subsequent flights will deliver 10,000 mattresses, 5,000 beds, and an unspecified number of water filters, she said.

Potzel said Germany had greatly increased aid to Gaza and would be providing another €200 million ($220 million) in support for various humanitarian groups from the UN, as well as NGOs. 

She also described scenes at Egyptian hospitals treating Gazans, and emphasized that here, too, Germany had shown support by recently delivering incubators and medical equipment requested by Egypt.

Potzel said, "Germany wants to help people in Gaza," and vowed Berlin was actively pursuing humanitarian foreign policy at all levels in order to "ease the suffering of those in Gaza." 

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Published: 20 Dec 2023, 11:12 AM