The UN Security Council has passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Only the USA abstained. It threatened to veto the resolution if it called for a “permanent ceasefire”, so the wording was changed to a “lasting ceasefire”. The USA has already used its veto three times to quash resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. So why did it propose a ceasefire at the UN Security Council last week, and why did it abstain today instead of using its veto? Let us be clear — this has nothing to do with ending the suffering of the people of Palestine — it is a cynical ploy to appear to put pressure on Israel while absolving it of any blame for perpetrating a genocide.

The US resolution did not call for an immediate ceasefire; instead it recognised “the imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides” and supported “diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire in connection with the release of all remaining hostages”.

These are weasel words. As Hanan Ashrawi, a former Member of the Palestine Legislative Council, said on Al Jazeera, the USA resolution contained a series of allegations against Hamas and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), but made no mention of atrocities committed by Israel. She reminded us that the USA has a history of using its veto to protect Israel, having previously blocked 48 Security Council resolutions on Palestine.

The successful resolution is unconditional. It demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan which ends in two weeks’ time. It also calls for the release of all hostages and for all sides to obey international law in their treatment of detainees. It also demands “the lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale”.

UN Chief, Antonio Guterres, posted on X that the resolution “must be implemented”, but if Israel refuses what can the UN do without the USA intervening? If the USA was serious about ending the war, it could do so tomorrow — Israel depends on US economic and military aid. Since 1948 Israel has received a total of $318 billion in aid and subsidies. Military aid, in a deal agreed by Obama in 2016, is currently running at just under $4 billion a year. Military exports to Israel have continued unabated during the war on Gaza. Without them the war would be unsustainable, but, instead of cutting the supply, Biden is asking Congress for an additional $14 billion in military aid for Israel.

Biden has betrayed his true feelings towards the people of Palestine in his response to the famine. Israel has felt emboldened to halt all aid deliveries to Northern Gaza after the US Congress voted through an interim budget that has defunded UNRWA for another year; the bill now goes to the Senate after being endorsed by the White House. UNRWA is the only agency with the capacity to deliver aid in sufficient quantities and administer it to the starving population of Gaza. Israel has long campaigned against UNRWA because it maintains detailed records of the refugee status of Palestinians forced to flee from successive Israeli assaults, starting with the Nakba in 1948. Destroying UNRWA is part and parcel of its attempt to destroy all memory of the Palestinian people it has expelled from Israel.

We have got to this point, with a grudging abstention from the USA, only because of the sustained strength of the demonstrations for peace and justice in Palestine around the world. Keeping up the worldwide pressure is the only way to end the war.


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