US and Russia Propose Rival Plans to Aid Palestinian Civilians in Gaza Strip
US Calls for Humanitarian Pauses, Russia Advocates for a Ceasefire
The United States and Russia have presented competing proposals at the United Nations to address the dire situation of Palestinian civilians affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip. Both countries aim to alleviate shortages of food, water, medical supplies, and electricity in Gaza through U.N. Security Council resolutions. However, while the U.S. suggests implementing humanitarian pauses to allow aid into Gaza, Russia insists on a humanitarian ceasefire.
Although the distinction between a pause and a ceasefire may seem semantic, the U.S. proposal for pauses originates from an initial draft that strongly favored Israel, a longstanding ally of Washington. In response, Russia, supported by Arab states, rejects the U.S. plan and instead proposes a ceasefire.
For a council resolution to be adopted, it requires at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the United States, France, Britain, Russia, or China. The timing and likelihood of voting on the U.S. and Russian draft resolutions remain uncertain.
U.S. Secretary of State Advocates for the U.S. Proposal
During a Security Council meeting on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the crucial role of the Security Council and highlighted that the U.S. draft resolution “sets out practical steps.” The United States had previously vetoed a Brazil-drafted resolution for humanitarian pauses, arguing that additional time was necessary for U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at facilitating aid access to Gaza and securing the release of hostages held by Hamas.
After facing international pressure, the U.S. revised its draft to include a call for “all measures necessary, such as humanitarian pauses,” to enable aid access. The amended draft also removed direct references to Iran and Israel’s right to self-defense.
Russia Presents an Alternative Resolution
Disapproving of the proposed U.S. action, Russia introduced its own alternative draft resolution, incorporating humanitarian language from the U.S., Brazilian, and first Russian drafts. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia emphasized the global expectation of a swift and unconditional ceasefire, which he believes the American draft lacks.
Last week, Russia’s draft resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire fell short of the required nine votes, receiving five votes in favor, four against, and six abstentions. Arab states expressed their firm support for a humanitarian ceasefire, expressing regret over the Security Council’s failure to adopt a resolution or call for a ceasefire to end the ongoing war.
The Israeli-Hamas Conflict and Its Devastating Impact
The Israeli-Hamas conflict escalated when Hamas gunmen breached the barrier fence surrounding Gaza on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,400 people. In response, Israel launched airstrikes, enforced a siege, and is preparing for a ground offensive. Palestinian authorities report more than 5,700 casualties and 1.4 million people displaced. The need for urgent humanitarian assistance in Gaza is paramount.