US to call for ‘temporary ceasefire’ in Gaza with UN draft resolution opposing Rafah offensive

The United States has proposed a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council calling for a “temporary ceasefire” in Gaza, after repeatedly resisting global demands to pressure Israel to immediately halt its devastating siege in the beleaguered strip.

A draft resolution also warns against Israel’s ground incursion in Rafah in southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge after they were violently displaced by Israel’s months-long campaign.

The proposal comes after the US mission to the UN announced its opposition to an Algerian-led measure demanding an immediate ceasefire, which Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said would “run counter” to recent negotiations between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as the leaders of Egypt and Qatar.

The Security Council is scheduled to vote on Algeria’s resolution on Tuesday.

The latest proposal warns that Israel’s planned ground invasion in Rafah would “result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighbouring countries” and “would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

Last week, President Biden warned Mr Netanyahu that that such an operation “should not proceed,” according to a readout of their call from the White House.

The UN’s humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths has warned that Israel’s “military operations in Rafah could lead to a slaughter in Gaza” and would leave “an already fragile humanitarian operation at death’s door.”

It is unclear when the draft will be put forward for a vote. The measure would need more than nine votes from the council and no vetoes from permanent members such as the US to pass.

Israel’s retaliatory assault in the wake of Hamas’s attacks on October 7 has killed more than 29,000 people in Gaza since 7 October, including 13,000 children.

In December, after several days of negotiations led by the US, the UN Security Council stopped short of a resolution calling for an immediate cessation of violence to pressure Israel to allow the safe passage of aid into Gaza, and instead approved a watered-down measure in an effort to avoid a veto from the US.

The US and Russia ultimately abstained from voting.

That resolution was stripped of a call for “the urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities”. Instead, it called “for urgent steps to immediately allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and also for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

The latest resolution from Algeria would demand an immediate ceasefire and call on Israel and Hamas to “scrupulously comply” with international law to protect civilians and rejected the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes.

On Saturday, Ms Thomas-Greenfield said current negotiations among US officials with Israel and others would create the “best opportunity to reunite all hostages with their families and enable a prolonged pause in fighting, that would allow for more lifesaving food, water, fuel, medicine, and other essentials to get into the hands of Palestinian civilians who desperately need it.”

Algeria’s resolution “would not achieve these outcomes, and indeed, may run counter to them,” she said. “For that reason, the United States does not support action on this draft resolution. Should it come up for a vote as drafted, it will not be adopted.”

More than three-quarters of the 193-member UN General Assembly voted to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the crisis last year. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has long supported such efforts,