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U.N Security Council Passes Gaza Ceasefire Resolution

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U.N Security Council Votes on Gaza Disaster
by C. L. Cook
An emergency session of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) worked late into Thursday evening in an effort to broach a ceasefire in Gaza, where Israeli Defense Forces' aggression has so far killed more than 750 and wounded more than 3200 Palestinians.
Israel began its offensive, 'Cast Lead' fourteen days ago, claiming the massive military invasion of the Gaza Strip was a retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza into neighbouring territory claimed by Israel.The Israeli government blames Hamas, the political leaders of an isolated Gaza as the responsible party in the two week-old hostilities.
Hopes for a resolution at the fifteen member UNSC were thin earlier this evening, but condemnation of Israel's one-sided destruction of Gaza, with its attendant civilian death toll, coming from around the globe has quickened the pace of agreement at the council.
The United States blocked a previous attempt at a ceasefire, saying Hamas was unlikely to honour it. But, video images of the destruction and suffering of Palestinians coming out of Gaza despite an Israeli Defense Forces ban on foreign journalists, and growing demonstrations against what is seen as becoming a humanitarian disaster of the first order, worked to weaken U.S. resolve to use its vote at the UNSC to allow Israel complete its military aims in the Strip.
The conflict looked to spread Thursday, as unconfirmed IDF reports of rockets coming from Lebanon were answered by Israeli rockets fire into southern Lebanon. 
Reuters news reports an unanimous vote for a draft resolution, quoting Saudi Foreign Minister, Saud Al-Faisal saying: "This is [...] a historic event." While Al-Faisal's United Kingdom counterpart, David Miliband promised the resolution would: "send a very strong signal about the determination of the whole international community."
Representatives from India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and a Palestinian member were allowed non-voting participation in the resolution procedure presented by the president of the council, representative from France, which stated as conditions of a ceasefire, in part:
- The end of the firing of rockets.
- The end of Israeli "manoevres."
- The cessation of illegal weapons traffic into the region.
In a show of hands, draft resolution s2009-23 passed, but failed to gain unanimous endorsement with United States representative Condoleezza Rice's abstention. Regardless, Miliband treated the vote's passage as a sign of a "unanimity of purpose," saying:
"We all have responsibilities to [...] chart a course back to resolution 1850 [...] a task to which we are all totally committed."
Rice said she was "pleased" to join the conversation, saying the resolution is "a step towards our goals." She cited Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek's efforts as the way to a "sustainable solution," saying the U.S. would like to give the Egyptian initiative a chance to come to a conclusion, while maintaining Hamas as the sole progenitors of the current crisis, and saying the United States requires another resolution that "re-establishes the Palestinian Authority's control" of crossings in and out of Gaza.

Security Council overwhelmingly calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

8 January 2009 – The United Nations Security Council tonight overwhelmingly called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza leading to a full Israeli withdrawal, the unimpeded provision throughout Gaza of food, fuel and medical treatment, and intensified international arrangements to prevent arms and ammunition smuggling.

Fourteen of the Council’s 15 members voted in favour, with only the United States abstaining.

The resolution, presented by the United Kingdom and adopted as Israel’s offensive moved into its 14th day, emphasized that Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected, voiced grave concern at the heavy civilian casualties and the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and condemned all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism.

The Israeli operation has so far killed 758 people in Gaza, of whom 257 were children and 56 women, with 3,100 wounded, 1,080 of them children and 452 women, according to Palestinian reports cited as credible by UN officials.

The resolution called for renewed efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace with two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders. The West Bank-based Palestine Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas accepts the two-state solution, while Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. The resolution “encourages tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation.”

The 15-member Council welcomed Egyptian and other efforts under way to end the current crisis, which began on 27 December with Israeli air strikes launched with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks.

Stressing the urgency of “an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire,” and calling for “the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance,” it called on UN Member States to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, including through additional contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

It also called on Member States “to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained re-opening of crossing points.” Israel has accused Hamas of smuggling more advanced rockets and weapons and has closed crossings into Gaza in response to Hamas rocket fire.

Adoption of the resolution came as diplomatic efforts to secure an end to the fighting moved into higher gear with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling senior officials in the region. He telephoned Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal this morning and was trying to reach Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“The Secretary-General continues his around-the-clock efforts with world leaders to achieve an immediate ceasefire,” spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters, noting that yesterday he held meetings with the United States Secretary of State, and the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, Egypt, France, Jordan, Norway and Saudi Arabia.

General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto had earlier chided the lack of action by the Security Council. “I can’t stand the smell of formaldehyde,” he told a news briefing at Headquarters. “Rigor mortis seems to have taken over, and we are failing the world, we are failing the cause of peace,” he added, referring to “the dysfunctionality” of the Council.



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