With all speakers having delivered their statements, the President of the Security Council adjourned the meeting.
Step in the right direction: Egypt
Egyptian Ambassador and Permanent Representative Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek Mahmoud welcomed the adoption of the resolution, “a step in the right direction” to address the humanitarian impact of the war and ensure that aid will be delivered unhindered through a UN supervised mechanism.
The representative also thanked the Secretary-General for invoking Article 99 of the United Nations Charter, before saluting the staff of the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) their sacrifice on the ground.
Now that the Security Council has secured a resolution, UN agencies and bodies must implement it without delay by drawing up a comprehensive plan for a functioning mechanism in cooperation with the international community, he said.
But first of all, we must oblige Israel to a cease-fire, he added, asking the Security Council to act on a binding resolution calling for a comprehensive ceasefire.
That is the will of the international community, he indicated, recalling the 153 votes in favour of the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 12 December. He also insisted on the importance of resuming the negotiations to establish a Palestinian state.
“This is the only path to ensure a comprehensive peace in the region”, he said.
Hostages must be at the top of Council’s agenda: Israel
Brett Jonathan Miller, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel, said while it took the Security Council one day to condemn a terrorist attack against police officers in Iran, 77 days have passed since Hamas attacked and murdered 1,300 civilians in Israel and took 250 hostages, “this Council still has yet to issue a single statement condemning Hamas and their atrocities.”
“In addition to the Council’s inability to condemn Hamas’ attack, the 130 hostages, women children and the elderly, are still being held in Gaza and must not be allowed to become a footnote,” he said.
“Humanitarian aid is pouring into Gaza every single day, yet the hostages being held by Hamas are not even allowed visits by the Red Cross. This is the most heinous war crime imaginable,” he added, stressing that the hostages must be at the top of the Council’s agenda.
Ambassador Miller went on to inform Council members that Israel is already facilitating hundreds of truckloads of aid into Gaza every day and that it is also willing and able to “exponentially increase” the entry of aid trucks into the enclave, noting the opening of the Karem Shalom crossing and the entry of dozens of trucks of aid that arrived from Jordan.
“The only roadblock for aid entry is the UN’s ability to accept them,” he said, stating that enhancing UN monitoring or coordination of aid “is not a cure all” and that it cannot be done at the expense of Israel’s security inspections.
“Israel not only has a right, but also an obligation to guarantee its security,” he added, noting that its security inspection of aid “will not change.”
Facing death every single day: Palestine
Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the Observer State of Palestine, said that the Security Council first met to address the crisis when hundreds of Palestinians had been killed by Israel.
“The Council is now meeting after over 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, almost half of them children and 60,000 wounded, and two million Palestinians have been forcefully displaced,” he said, adding that it is meeting now as homes, shelters, schools and hospitals have been destroyed, and as hunger and disease are spreading “like wildfire”.
He stated that the Arab and Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) groups, with support of an overwhelming number of UN Member States had been mobilizing for three objectives, an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian assistance at scale, and no forced displacement.
“We meet today as part of the continuous efforts to advance these goals,” he said, noting that the “inhumane and criminal Israeli siege” and the use of vital humanitarian “as a method of war” must end immediately.
“What we are dealing with is an attempt at the destruction of our people and their displacement forever from their land,” he said, adding “this is Israel’s goal, its true objective, no future for Palestinians in Palestine.”
“That is why it is bombing everyone and everything,” he said.
Noting that “death is everywhere” in Gaza, Mr. Mansour said that the resolution is intended to alleviate the suffering of civilians. He welcomed the provision to establish a UN mechanism to accelerate the provision of humanitarian relief consignments and call for its rapid implementation.
“This resolution is a step in the right direction. It must be implemented and must be accompanied by massive pressure for an immediate ceasefire,” he added.
Aid must be delivered in sufficient quantity: Ecuador
Speaking in his national capacity, José Javier De La Gasca, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ecuador, the President of the Security Council for December, said that the vote was the outcome of careful negotiations, good faith and constructive spirit.
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is disastrous. During our visit last week, we saw so many people suffering and the alleviation of their suffering must be our priority,” he said.
The resolution, he said, aims to significantly increase the quality of aid and calls for the necessary steps to make it possible.
“For Ecuador, it is of vital importance that humanitarian aid be delivered in sufficient quantity,” he said, noting that the resolution should be seen as an additional step towards the urgent need for a ceasefire.
He also underscored the demand for unconditional release of all hostages, reiterating his country’s “robust condemnation” of the 7 October attacks by Hamas.
Ambassador De La Gasca also highlighted the importance of the two-State solution, “it is the only path to peace and security” in the region.
Resolution unblocks lifesaving aid: UAE
Ambassador Nusseibeh of UAE welcomed the adoption of the resolution and the support of the Security Council.
“We believe the resolution begins to unblock lifesaving aid whose denial has condemned half a million people in Gaza to famine,” she said, emphasizing that the text “compels” the international community to finally share the burden that Egypt has been shouldering.
“It commits all of us to breaking the cruel blockade strangling Gaza for the last 16 years,” she added.
In her address, Ambassador Nusseibeh also called for urgent action to save the two-State solution, noting that the resolution gives an opportunity to demonstrate “at the very least” the world will not tolerate the continued depravation of the people of Gaza from basic necessities.
“It puts in place a system necessary now and that will remain necessary when the war ends,” she said, adding “we are all responsible for making sure it works.”
A tragic moment for the Security Council: Russia
Russian Ambassador Nebenzia recalled the amendment proposed by his delegation and said that the vote on it was a moment of truth.
He expressed regret that the Security Council did not find the courage to support at least the minimum call for an end to the violence in Gaza, and it instead signed up for a “license to kill” Palestinian civilians.
“This is a tragic moment for the Council, not a moment of triumph for multilateral diplomacy, but rather one of gross unprincipled blackmail and open scorn on part of Washington for the suffering of Palestinians and the hopes of the global community,” he said.
He went on to note that if the draft resolution had not been supported by a number of Arab States, Russia would certainly have vetoed it.
Adding that Arab States are able to take decisions and bear responsibility, he underscored “categorical” disagreement with the contents of the resolution.
Ambassador Nebenzia also emphasized that the Security Council’s clear demand for a full ceasefire remains an imperative, and that without it, the implementation of Council decisions in Gaza is simply impossible.
No matter how the US resists, shielding their main ally in the Middle East region, the Security Council will be back to clearly and unequivocally demand a cessation of hostilities, he said.
Protect humanitarian, medical personnel: France
French Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Nathalie Broadhurst Estival, said that the resolution calls for urgent measures to be taken to create the conditions for a lasting cessation of hostilities.
“We would have preferred the Council to speak more ambitiously on this subject,” she said, noting that on Thursday, the President of France recalled the crucial importance of immediately working towards a ceasefire which alone will allow the reopening of an essential political horizon.
She underscored the importance of international humanitarian law, and said that it must be applied in all circumstances, as well as guarantee complete protection and access for humanitarian and medical personnel.
This Council must also condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks committed by Hamas and other terrorist groups on October 7, including the sexual violence they used to dehumanize and terrorize their victims, the French Ambassador said.
“It is incomprehensible that this Council has still not been able to do so. It should do so, it must do so, law and morality require it,” she stressed.
Effective implementation needed: China
Dai Bing, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of China, said his country welcomed the adoption of the resolution even though the adjustments do not meet our expectations.
Given the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, the resolution offers “at least a glimmer of hope” for more and faster delivery of aid to the enclave, he said, adding “whether this glimmer of hope can be truly felt by the people of Gaza in the midst of this disaster also depends on whether the resolution can be effectively implemented.”
We expect action to expand humanitarian assistance in Gaza, including by the full use of Karem Shalom and the opening of other crossing points, the Ambassador said, while urging Israel to stop its collective punishment of the population of Gaza and insisting that realization of a cease fire remains the overriding goal.
This the reason why China voted for the Russian amendment, he added and expressed regret that it failed due to a veto.
Parties to the conflict have obligations: UK
Barbara Woodward, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom (UK), recalled her country’s humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of civilians in the enclave.
She said the UK supported the resolution and that it will streamline aid checks so that humanitarian response can be massively scaled up. It also demands the immediate and unconditional release of hostages as well as for steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we are clear that the resolution is without prejudice to the rights and obligations of the parties under international humanitarian law,” she said, noting that the adoption is an important signal of the Security Council’s commitment.
“Our actions today and in the future must help ensure that the horror of the 7 October never happens again, we unequivocally condemn Hamas’ acts of terror and support Israel’s right to self defence,” Ambassador Woodward said.
“Ultimately, we support the two-State solution that guarantees true security and stability for both Israeli and Palestinian people,” she stated.
A glimmer of hope: US
US Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield was the first to speak after the vote, describing the resolution as “a glimmer of hope amongst a sea of unimaginable suffering”.
She said that since the start of the conflict, the US has worked tirelessly to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, to get lifesaving assistance into Gaza, to get hostages out of the enclave, and to push for the protection of innocent civilians and humanitarian workers, and to work towards a lasting peace.
“Today this Council made clear that all hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally and that humanitarian groups must be able to access hostages, including for medical visits,” she said.
The Council made clear that all parties must respect international humanitarian law and that civilian, humanitarian and UN facilities, as well as humanitarian personnel and medical personnel, must be protected, she added.
While encouraged that the Council spoke out on the humanitarian crisis, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said the US was “appalled” that it was again unable to condemn the horrific terrorist attacks committed by Hamas on 7 October.
The Security Council has adopted the draft resolution, penned by the UAE, as Resolution 2720 (2023).
13 members voted in favour, US and Russia abstained
Voting results on the resolution:
In favour: 13
Abstain: 2 (Russia, US)
Speaking in explanation of her vote on the amendment, US Ambassador and Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield said her country did not support the proposal by Russia.
“We believe the humanitarian resolution before us calls for urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access and to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities,” she said.
“This is a strong step forward,” she added.
An amendment proposed by Russia on the draft resolution failed, having received a negative vote by a permanent member of the Security Council, the United States.
Voting result for the amendment:
In favour: 10
Against: 1 (US)
Vassily A. Nebenzia, Russian Ambassador and Permanent Representative, questioned why is the vote constantly delayed on the UAE-proposed draft.
“The answer is very simple, the US under various pretexts has been dragging out the negotiating process, deviating from the normal transparent work,”
“Instead, they have resorted to their favoured tactic of gross pressure, blackmail, twisting arms, so that at the last minute, they can present the Security Council members with an ultimatum, either the Council adopts a text that is convenient for Washington or the US will block the adoption of any product,” he added.
He said that the draft before the Council and being put to a vote today has been “extremely neutered”, including in its operative paragraph 4 on the mechanism that was supposed to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and ensure its monitoring.
“By signing off on this the Council would essentially be giving the Israeli armed forces complete freedom of movement for furthering clearing of the Gaza Strip, and anyone voting for the text as it is currently worded would bear responsibility for that,” he said.
Speaking before the vote, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, warning over risks of a looming famine.
She noted that the draft resolution is the “product of extensive consultations and engagement between members of the Council, and concerned parties in particular Egypt and Palestine.”
“The purpose of this text is very simple, it responds with action tot eh dire humanitarian situation on the ground for the Palestinian people bearing the brunt of this conflict, while protecting those trying to delivery live saving aid,” she said.
“It demands the urgent release of the hostages, and humanitarian access to meet their medical needs,” she added.
Security Council members are invited to speak in explanation of their vote, before the vote.
José Javier De La Gasca, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ecuador, which holds the Presidency of the Security Council for December, called the meeting to order.
Egypt and Israel have been invited to the meeting, as has the been the Observer State of Palestine.
Welcome to our live coverage on Friday, 22 December, as Security Council members are expected to convene at 11:30 AM (New York time) to vote on a draft resolution on the ongoing crisis in Gaza.
On Thursday, Council members continued their closed-doors consultations late into the evening.
United States Ambassador and Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield emerged from the meeting, telling reporters that after working hard over the past week, her country was ready to vote on a draft resolution, if compromises made remained in the latest draft.
Follow the action at this page and at @UN_News_Centre on X, formerly Twitter.
21 December 2023 / 08:35 PM
Closed doors discussions on the draft resolution have concluded for the night. The Security Council is expected to meet Friday morning, for possible action on the draft.
Join us tomorrow morning for our continued coverage.
The US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield emerged from the closed door meeting telling reporters that after working hard over the past week, her country was ready to vote on a draft resolution, if compromises made remained in the latest draft.
Instead of calling for a sustainable ceasefire or suspension of fighting, it calls for creating conditions which could lead to a sustainable ceasefire. It also calls on the Secretary-General to appoint a senior aid verification coordinator in Gaza, and not a full monitoring mechanism.
Ambassadors are still locked in consultations over the latest draft resolution and it is looking unlikely that they will head into the chamber tonight.
Council members are in closed consultations on the draft resolution.
It’s been a day of intense activity in and around the Security Council at UN Headquarters but it does now look as if ambassadors are going to go into consultations at the top of the hour, to try and bring the United States on board with a further amended draft which it is hoped will provide new impetus to boost the flow and speed of lifesaving aid to Gazans.
The last draft to go up for a vote was vetoed by the US on 8 December, which was quickly followed by action in the UN General Assembly four days later, when Member States voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, through a non-binding resolution.
The Emergency Special Session of the Assembly resumed and then adjourned on Wednesday with dozens of countries making statements on the crisis.
Avoiding another veto
The Council has been negotiating throughout the week to find language which will avoid a further US veto, having first introduced a draft which called for a “cessation of hostilities”, which now calls for a “suspension” of fighting, to vastly increase access for lifesaving aid.
The US argued on Tuesday and in previous deadlocked sessions that any resolution must condemn the Hamas extremist group’s terror attacks of 7 October which sparked this deadly and unprecedented surge in the Palestine-Israel conflict, and which led to around 1,200 deaths in southern Israel and the capture of more than 200 hostages by extremists, dozens of whom remain captive in Gaza.
Some countries critical of Israel’s offensive have argued in response that any resolution condemning Hamas, must also condemn the Israeli occupation and the thousands of civilian deaths resulting from Israel’s military action since 7 October.
According to media reports, a further sticking point for diplomats negotiating the draft resolution has been the setting up of a UN monitoring mechanism which would be responsible for assessing the effectiveness of aid delivery at scale, independent of either Israeli or Hamas authorities in Gaza.
Situation in Gaza
Latest casualty figures from authorities in Gaza report around 20,000 civilian deaths since the Israeli retaliatory bombardment and offensive began, most of them women and children.
On Tuesday as the Council met to discuss the crisis in the Middle East in a scheduled debate, the UN Special Envoy for the peace process said the whole humanitarian system was “on the brink” of collapse, and also voiced deep concern at the deteriorating situation for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
“I reiterate that security forces must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when it is strictly unavoidable to protect life,” Tor Wennesland stressed.