US to present Gaza ceasefire resolution to UN Security Council

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, traveling to the Middle East on Thursday, insisted that fighting in the Gaza Strip should stop as the United States prepared to present a resolution to the United Nations on Friday calling for “a immediate and lasting ceasefire.” fire.”

The U.S.-drafted Security Council resolution contains the strongest language Washington has backed so far and is an apparent shift for Israel's closest ally. In February, the United States vetoed a Council resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

The new resolution also condemns the attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel on October 7 that sparked the war and the hostage taking that day, and expresses support for negotiations aimed at freeing those still detained in Gaza.

When the United States vetoed the previous resolution, U.S. officials said they did so because they feared it could disrupt hostage negotiations. But Biden administration officials have become more outspoken in recent weeks in their push for a cease-fire, as experts have warned. imminent famine in Gaza and pressure is growing for stronger international action.

The resolution distributed by American diplomats and obtained Thursday by the New York Times indicates that the Council determines the imperative for an immediate and lasting ceasefire to protect civilians of all parties, enable the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance and alleviate humanitarian suffering, and to this end, unequivocally supports the efforts international diplomatic efforts underway to obtain such a ceasefire in connection with the release of all remaining hostages.

The resolution also notes the “deep concern over the threat of famine and epidemics caused by the conflict.”

The call for an “immediate and lasting” ceasefire was significantly stronger than a draft Security Council resolution circulated by the United States in February, which called for a temporary ceasefire “as soon as as possible “.

The Biden administration also used the resolution to reiterate its opposition to Israel's planned invasion of the southern Gaza town of Rafah, which is teeming with war refugees. It expresses “concern that a ground offensive on Rafah could cause further harm to civilians and lead to their displacement, including potentially to neighboring countries.”

In Egypt on Thursday, Blinken met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and several Arab foreign ministers – including those from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority – to discuss how Gaza could be used after the war. be governed and kept safe.

The group also planned to discuss providing more aid to civilians in Gaza, trapped in a humanitarian crisis.

Mr. Blinken had arrived from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where, in an interview with the Saudi news channel Al Hadath, he said he hoped other countries would support the Security Council resolution proposed by the United States. “I think it would send a strong message, a strong signal,” he said.

He also said ceasefire negotiations between Hamas and Israel, mediated by Egypt and Qatar, were “moving closer” to an agreement. Negotiators have been in Qatar since Monday for the last round of negotiationsafter several previous attempts which resulted in a resolution.

On Thursday, Mr. Blinken said obstacles to a deal remained.

“There are still real challenges,” he said, speaking alongside his Egyptian counterpart at a news conference in Cairo. “We have closed the gaps, but there are still some. »

Last week, Hamas presented a new proposal that excluded a previous request that Israel immediately agree to a permanent ceasefire in exchange for the start of a hostage exchange for Palestinians in Israeli prisons, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Israeli officials said Before this week's negotiations, the general proposal under discussion called for a 42-day pause in fighting, in exchange for the release of 40 of the more than 100 hostages believed to be in Gaza.

Mr. Blinken also held a late-night meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during which he outlined the Biden administration's ultimate goal of “establishing a future Palestinian state with security guarantees.” for Israel,” the State Department spokesperson said. Matthew Miller, said in a statement Thursday.

He said Blinken and the crown prince had “continued discussions on achieving lasting regional peace and security, including through greater integration among countries in the region and enhanced bilateral cooperation.” between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

These were discussions between the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia regarding a possible agreement in which the kingdom would establish normal diplomatic relations with Israel for the first time. In return, the Saudis asked the United States for security guarantees, arms sales and support for a civilian nuclear program.

Such a deal would most likely require Israeli support to achieve a Palestinian state.

Mr. Blinken plans to visit Israelwhere he will discuss the possible Saudi normalization deal, as well as ways to protect and provide more aid to civilians there.

Thursday's diplomatic efforts came as the Israeli military raid on Gaza's largest medical center stretched into a fourth day. The army said Thursday it had killed dozens of people it described as terrorists over the previous 24 hours in and around Al-Shifa hospital in central Gaza.

Israel staged a series of raids on the hospital. Since the latest attack began on Monday, the Israeli military said it had killed more than 140 people it described as terrorists, far more than in previous raids. On Thursday, the army said it had also arrested 600 people at the hospital.

Israel said Hamas used the hospital as a command center and hid weapons and fighters in underground tunnels there.

The report was provided by Victoria Kim, Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Hiba Yazbek And Lauren Leatherby.

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