UN Security Council moving toward vote to demand aid access for Gaza
The United Nations Security Council could vote as early as Monday on a proposal to allow aid access to the Gaza Strip - via land, sea and air routes - and set up UN monitoring of the humanitarian assistance delivered.
Diplomats said the fate of the draft Security Council resolution hinges on final negotiations between Israel ally and council veto power, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates, which has drafted the text.
"We have engaged constructively and transparently throughout the entire process in an effort to unite around a product that will pass," said a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"The UAE knows exactly what can pass and what cannot — it is up to them if they want to get this done."
The US wants to tone down language on a cessation of hostilities, diplomats said. The draft text, seen by news agency Reuters, currently "calls for an urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access."
UN officials and aid agencies warn of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza - mass starvation and disease - with the majority of the coastal Palestinian enclave's 2.3 million people driven from their homes during the two-month long conflict.
A council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the US, France, China, Britain or Russia.
Earlier this month, Washington vetoed a resolution in the 15-member council that would have demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Israel's war on Gaza. The 193-member UN General Assembly then demanded a ceasefire last week with 153 states voting in favor.
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 October 7 attack on Israel.
Heavy rains and winter conditions in Gaza have worsened the despair of displaced Palestinian families in the besieged enclave.— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) December 14, 2023
Over 85% of Gazans have been displaced by the Israeli military assault on Gaza and are now living in tents with no protection from harsh cold… pic.twitter.com/J581C74cQ3
Israel has bombarded Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground offensive.
Around 19,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, according to Palestinian health officials.
After several failed attempts to act, the Security Council last month called for pauses in fighting to allow Gaza aid access.
A seven-day pause, during which Hamas released some hostages, some Palestinians were freed from Israeli jails and there was an increase in aid to Gaza - ended on December 1.
Limited humanitarian aid and fuel deliveries have crossed into Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Egypt, subjected to monitoring by Israel, but UN officials and aid workers say it comes nowhere near to satisfying the most basic needs of Gazans.
The draft resolution aims to set up UN monitoring in Gaza of aid delivered via land, sea or aid by countries who are not parties to the conflict. The UN would notify the Palestinian Authority and Israel of those aid deliveries.
On Sunday the Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza opened for aid trucks for the first time since the outbreak of war, officials said, in a move to double the amount of food and medicine reaching Gaza.