UN Security Council aims to vote Friday to boost aid to Gaza

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -A United Nations Security Council vote on a bid to boost aid to the Gaza Strip was delayed by another day to Friday even though Israel’s ally the United States, which holds veto power, won changes it wanted and said it could now support the proposal.

With Israel’s military campaign to annihilate Hamas more than 10 weeks old, the amended resolution no longer dilutes Israel’s control over all aid deliveries to 2.3 million people in Gaza. Israel monitors the limited aid deliveries to Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Egypt and the Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing.

After nearly two weeks of negotiations and already several days of delays on a vote, an agreement was struck late Thursday with the U.S. that could allow a resolution drafted by United Arab Emirates to be adopted.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters that it was “a resolution that we can support”, but she declined to specify if that meant the U.S. would vote in favor or abstain, which would allow the resolution to be adopted.

The vote, however, was delayed until Friday after Russia – also a veto power – and some other council members complained during closed-door talks about the amendments made to appease Washington, diplomats said. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia declined to speak to reporters after the meeting.

A key sticking point for the U.S. had been a proposal for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish a monitoring mechanism in Gaza “to exclusively monitor all humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza provided through land, sea and air routes” from countries not party to the war.

Instead the amended draft resolution asks Guterres to appoint a senior humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator to establish a U.N. mechanism for accelerating aid to Gaza through states that are not party to the conflict.

The coordinator would also have responsibility “for facilitating, coordinating, monitoring, and verifying in Gaza, as appropriate, the humanitarian nature” of all the aid.


The initial draft resolution had demanded that Israel and Hamas allow and facilitate “the use of all land, sea and air routes to and throughout the entire Gaza” for aid deliveries. That was changed to “all available routes,” which some diplomats said allows Israel to retain control over access.

The U.S. had also been wary of a reference in the draft resolution to a cessation of hostilities, said diplomats. The U.S. and Israel oppose a ceasefire, believing it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and free hostages taken by Hamas.

The draft resolution now has blunted language to have the council call for “urgent steps to immediately allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and also for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.”

Washington traditionally shields its ally Israel from U.N. action and has already twice vetoed Security Council action since an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 240 people taken hostage.

Israel has retaliated against Hamas by bombarding Gaza from the air, imposing a siege and launching a ground offensive. Nearly 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Most people in Gaza have been driven from their homes and U.N. officials have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe. The World Food Programme says half of Gaza’s population is starving and only 10% of the food required has entered Gaza since Oct. 7.

Earlier on Thursday U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric had described the current monitoring of aid to Gaza as “complex.”

“We have to deal with different parties. We’re trying to bring humanitarian aid into a live conflict zone,” he told reporters. “Ideally, if there were less burdens and there was no fighting, more aid could go in.”

Earlier this month the 193-member U.N. General Assembly demanded a humanitarian ceasefire, with 153 states voting in favor of the move that had been vetoed by the United States in the Security Council days earlier.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Paul Grant, Alistair Bell and Cynthia Osterman)