US submits UN resolution calling for Gaza cease-fire, hostage release



International Gaza famine 031924 AP Hatem Ali

The U.S. has submitted a resolution at the United Nations that calls for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and the release of all hostages held by Hamas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Blinken said in an interview Wednesday with an outlet in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. put forward a resolution that calls for an immediate cease-fire tied to a release of hostages. Hamas is believed to be holding some 100 hostages still alive in Gaza.

“We hope very much that countries will support that,” Blinken said. “I think that would send a strong message, a strong signal.”

A draft resolution for the U.S. proposal was first circulated last month, around the time when Washington vetoed a UN Security Council call for an immediate cease-fire without any conditions.

The U.S. has vetoed two other similar resolutions at the UN body since the war between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7, following a deadly attack from the Palestinian militant group in southern Israel that killed around 1,200 people and saw the kidnapping of another roughly 250.

Israel has since waged a multifront war in Gaza, where more than 31,000 people have died, leading to a humanitarian crisis and a looming famine.

The U.S. supports Israel in its bid to destroy Hamas but also is trying to get aid into Gaza, including through airdropping supplies and building a port off the coast of the strip that will take weeks to build.

Blinken this week also said there were negotiations involving Hamas, Israel, Qatar and Egypt to reach a cease-fire and hostage release.

“A very strong proposal was put on the table, and we have to see if Hamas can say yes to the proposal,” Blinken said. “If it does, that’s the most immediate way to alleviate the misery of people in Gaza, which is very much what we want.”

“It’s getting closer,” Blinken said of the negotiations. “I think the gaps are narrowing, and I think an agreement is very much possible.”

The negotiations may be complicated by an Israeli invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering from the war.

President Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week and urged him not to conduct a major military operation in Rafah, in his strongest message yet to the Israeli leader as tensions have flared over the war.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also said Thursday that he spoke to his counterpart in Israel, Yoav Gallant, and stressed “the need to consider alternatives to a major ground operation in Rafah,” according to a Pentagon statement.

But Netanyahu said in a Wednesday statement that it is “impossible” to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah, where he says the group is hiding battalions.

Netanyahu said he has already approved plans from his military and would soon approve of plans to evacuate civilians.

“There have been times when we have agreed with our friends, and there have been times when we have not agreed with them,” Netanyahu said. “In the end, we have always done what is vital for our security, and this is what we will do this time as well.”

The White House has said Israel has yet to send a plan for evacuating civilians in Rafah, which Biden has placed as a condition to approve of any ground operation. But the U.S. has since shifted toward providing alternatives to a ground operation.

Blinken said this week that the U.S. “will not support a major ground operation in Rafah.”

“And right now our focus is on showing that there’re alternatives to that that can deal with the ongoing challenge of Hamas but in a way that doesn’t further jeopardize the safety, the security of the lives of innocent people who are caught in this crossfire,” he said.

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