Published: 12:36, June 12, 2024 | Updated: 15:49, June 13, 2024
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Onus on US to deliver peace pie it's baked
By China Daily

Eight months after the outbreak of the bloody war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, the United Nations Security Council on Monday finally approved a resolution endorsing a cease-fire plan aimed at ending it.

Fourteen of the 15 UN Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution and Russia abstained. The resolution calls for an immediate, full and complete cease-fire and calls on both sides to fully implement the terms of the proposal "without delay and without condition".

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It sets out a three-phase approach to ensure a lasting and comprehensive end to the fighting, beginning with the release of all women, children and wounded being held hostage and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the "populated areas" of Gaza. All hostages are then to be released in exchange for a full withdrawal of all Israeli forces, leading to the multiyear reconstruction of the Palestinian enclave.

Although the US claimed in the UN Security Council that Israel had "accepted" the deal, that has not been confirmed by Tel Aviv, and it remains to be seen whether that was a bid to put pressure on Hamas. "My message to governments throughout the region … if you want a cease-fire, press Hamas to say 'yes'", US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said upon his arrival in Cairo on Monday, one of the ports of call on his eighth visit to the Middle East since the Oct 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Given the US-backed Israel has the upper hand in the conflict, it is misleading for the top US diplomat to try to put international pressure on Hamas to accept the cease-fire proposal, while allowing Tel Aviv to openly say that its goal of eliminating Hamas from the Palestinian enclave remains unchanged. Blinken apparently tried his best to press Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept the plan in a face-to-face meeting in Tel Aviv on Monday. But the latter remains skeptical of the deal, saying that Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas.

Representative of Israel to the UN Reut Shapir Ben Naftaly stressed that "Israel will not engage in meaningless and endless negotiations which can be exploited by Hamas as a means to stall for time".

Hamas has said it welcomes the adoption of the resolution and was ready to work with mediators in indirect negotiations with Israel to implement it, showing its openness to the plan. Its stressing that it would continue its struggle against Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and work on setting up a "fully sovereign" Palestinian state should not be regarded as excessive given the international consensus that a two-state solution is essential for any cessation of hostilities to be durable.

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That being said, with Israel still resisting the two-state solution and refusing to accept a sovereign Palestinian state, the gap between the two sides has not been narrowed by the resolution. It was thus misdirection for US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield to say that "the fighting could stop today" if Hamas would accept the deal, without mentioning at all the distance between Israel's stance and the two-state solution.

According to the resolution, even if the first phase of negotiations exceeds six weeks, the cease-fire will continue as long as the negotiations are still ongoing, and the relevant parties are working hard to ensure that the negotiations proceed until an agreement is reached. That means that once the cease-fire is achieved, the war will not be restarted. That is a major reason China voted in support of the resolution.

All UN Security Council resolutions are legally binding and should be fully and effectively implemented. It is to be hoped the US now makes sincere efforts to promote an immediate and permanent cease-fire by bringing Israel to the negotiation table under the framework of the resolution.