Netanyahu cancels delegation to US as UN Security Council backs ceasefire

Netanyahu cancels delegation to US as UN Security Council backs ceasefire

U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak to reporters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday canceled a high-level delegation to Washington after the Biden administration failed to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war against Hamas, the Prime Minister’s Office announced.

After four failed attempts, the Security Council passed its first resolution calling for an immediate halt to the military operation in the Gaza Strip until the end of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan on April 9.

The resolution, which also called for the release of Israeli hostages, was supported by 14 nations, including veto holders China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield abstained, allowing the measure to pass 14-0.

Following Monday’s vote, Jerusalem announced that “in light of the change in the American position, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided that the delegation will not depart.”

Netanyahu said that the changed U.S. position “hurts the war effort and the effort to release the hostages” by giving the Hamas terrorist organization hope that international pressure will bring about a ceasefire without freeing the captives

The Israeli delegation was slated to travel to Washington this week for talks on the looming Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah. It would have included Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Washington had said the discussion would focus on alternatives to a military operation in the city amid reports that President Joe Biden is considering conditioning aid to Israel if Jerusalem moves ahead with it.

In a March 9 interview with MSNBCBiden declared that invading Rafah is a “red line,” before quickly clarifying that “I’m never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical, so there’s no red line [where] I’m going to cut off all weapons.”

The final four Hamas battalions with some 3,000 gunmen are concentrated in Rafah. Netanyahu has repeatedly said that all of the Hamas battalions must be defeated to prevent the terrorist organization from regrouping and reestablishing itself to threaten Israel again.

Netanyahu told visiting Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday that the Jewish state cannot declare victory without destroying the battalions in Rafah. “I told him that I hope we would do this with U.S. support but if necessary, we will do it alone,” the prime minister said.

Around three-quarters of Jewish Israelis and a majority of Israelis overall support expanding the military operations against Hamas to Rafah, according to polling conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute.

Last month, Israel put forward an evacuation plan for civilians in Rafah. The proposal envisions 15 campsites of around 25,000 tents each (375,000 tents, in total) where displaced Gazans will be relocated.

Full text: UN Security Council Resolution 2728

The following is the full text of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2728, adopted on March 25, 2024, following the abstention of the United States:

Resolution 2728 (2024)

Adopted by the Security Council at its 9,586th meeting, on 25 March 2024

The Security Council,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling all of its relevant resolutions on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question,

Reiterating its demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and in this regard deploring all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as all violence and hostilities against civilians, and all acts of terrorism, and recalling that the taking of hostages is prohibited under international law,

Expressing deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, 

Acknowledging the ongoing diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States, aimed at reaching a cessation of hostilities, releasing the hostages and increasing the provision and distribution of humanitarian aid,

1. Demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire, and also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs, and further demands that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain; 

2. Emphasizes the urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to and reinforce the protection of civilians in the entire Gaza Strip and reiterates its demand for the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale, in line with international humanitarian law as well as resolutions 2712 (2023) and 2720 (2023);

3. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Source: JNS