The UN security council is slated to meet on Friday, December 8, 2023, and will vote on urging an immediate ceasefire in after weeks of the Israel-Hamas war.
The meeting comes under pressure from UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres who invoked article 99 of the UN Charter.
After Guterres sent his urgent letter, the United Arab Emirates prepared a draft resolution that will be put to a vote on Friday, according to the delegation from Ecuador, which chairs the council this month and decides on scheduling issues.
The draft resolution calls the humanitarian situation in Gaza “catastrophic” and “demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”
The short text also calls for protection of civilians, the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages Hamas is still holding, and humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.
However, the outcome of a vote is not clear – four earlier drafts presented since the war broke out were rejected by the security council.
Israel is displeased at the development as Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Wednesday said Guterres’ tenure was “a danger to world peace” after he invoked Article 99.
Meanwhile, the conditions in the besieged enclave are getting worse.
In its daily report on the situation, the UN’s humanitarian office stated that conditions in the Rafah area of southern Gaza are extremely overcrowded and there is a lack of basic resources.
“Thousands of people wait for hours in large crowds around aid distribution centres as people are in desperate need of food, water, shelter, health[care], and protection. There are concerns of a breakdown in law and order under these conditions,” it said
It added that residents of northern Gaza lack adequate access to water for drinking and domestic purposes, leading to “grave concerns about waterborne diseases due to water consumption from unsafe sources.”
U.S Likely To Veto Resolution
According to Ian Wilson, a lecturer in politics and security studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, Guterres’ invocation of Article 99 of the UN Charter is unlikely to yield results when the UN Security Council meets on Friday.
“The US will veto any resolution calling for a ceasefire, no matter how carefully it’s worded,” Wilson opined.
The UNSC can act on Guterres’ advice and consider a ceasefire resolution in Gaza, but the five permanent members – China, Russia, the US, the UK and France – have the power to veto any such decision.
Speaking with a news agency, Wilson said, “The US has vetoed 46 resolutions, including those condemning Israel’s illegal annexation of Golan Heights. They are utterly contemptuous of the rules-based order they claim to espouse.”
“The US always vetoes anything that seeks to constrain Israel. It is absolutely counterproductive as the whole world sees them condoning and providing the arms for wholesale massacre.”Ian Wilson
For a resolution to be adopted, at least nine of the 15-member UN Security Council must vote in favour and none of the council’s five permanent members – the US, Russia, China, France, and the UK – must veto the resolution.
Neither the US nor the UK supports a ceasefire in Gaza, arguing that Israel has a right to take military action.
The US has also said that it does not support any action at the Security Council on the Israel-Gaza war at this time.
The United States, Israel’s most powerful ally, vetoed one of the earlier draft resolutions.
Washington abstained from a vote last month to allow the Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for humanitarian pauses in fighting in Gaza.
That allowed for a seven-day pause that saw captives in Gaza released by Hamas and Israel free Palestinian women and children from its prisons.
The pause ended on December 1 amid a breakdown in negotiations.