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U.S. allows U.N. resolution calling for ‘urgent and extended’ humanitarian pauses to pass

The UN Security Council resolution, the first to address the Israel-Hamas war, does not call for a ceasefire

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

U.S. Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a Security Council meeting on the Israel-Hamas war at United Nations headquarters on October 30, 2023 in New York City.

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution on Wednesday calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip,” the body’s first successful attempt to address the Israel-Hamas war. The United States did not vote for the measure — nor did it veto the resolution.

The resolution also “calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children, as well as ensuring immediate humanitarian access.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during debate over the measure that the “United States could not vote yes on a text that did not condemn Hamas or reaffirm the right of all member states to protect their citizens from terrorist attacks.”

But, she added, “while this text does not include a condemnation of Hamas, this is the first time we have ever adopted a resolution that even mentions the word ‘Hamas.’”

Israel slammed the resolution, pointing out — as Thomas-Greenfield did — that the Security Council has still not condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel, which this resolution also did not address.

“The resolution focuses solely on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. It makes no mention of what led up to this moment,” said Brett Jonathan Miller, Israel’s deputy permanent representative to the UN. “The resolution makes it seem as if what we are witnessing in Gaza happened of its own accord.”

The vote comes after four previous attempts by the body to address the violence were vetoed. On Oct. 18, Thomas-Greenfield vetoed a resolution drafted by Brazil that she condemned because it “made no mention of Israel’s right of self-defense.”

On Wednesday, she came to a different conclusion.

“Although the United States is deeply disappointed by what is not in this text, we support many of the important provisions this Council has adopted.” Thomas-Greenfield noted that the U.S. has also called for the release of all hostages and for humanitarian pauses to help civilians in Gaza. “At the end of the day, this all comes down to one clear, urgent goal: To save innocent lives.”

That goal of saving lives “means Hamas must stop using people — including hospital staff and patients — as human shields,” Thomas-Greenfield said. It also means Israel must act in a way that is “consistent with the laws of war.”

“The United States does not want to see firefights in any hospitals where innocent people, helpless people, sick people are trying to get medical care they so desperately need. Patients and the people who care for them must be protected. Full stop,” she said. This week, Israel has closed in on a Gaza hospital that sits atop a Hamas headquarters. 

Russia also abstained from the vote, saying “humanitarian pauses cannot replace a ceasefire or truce.” The United Kingdom abstained too, citing the resolution’s lack of condemnation for Hamas.

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