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UN Security Council to vote Tuesday on resolution demanding Gaza ceasefire, US vows to use its veto

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Tuesday on an Arab-backed resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, which the United States announced it will veto.

Algeria, the Arab representative on the council, put the draft resolution in a final form that can be voted on. Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, said the vote will take place Tuesday morning.

In addition to a ceasefire, the final Algerian draft, obtained by The Associated Press, reiterates council demands that Israel and Hamas “scrupulously comply” with international law especially the protection of civilians, and rejects the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians.

The draft also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas during their surprise Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel. Some 1,200 people were killed and about 250 taken captive, with over 100 still believed to be held in Gaza.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement that the United States has been working on a hostage deal for months that would bring at least a six-week period of calm “from which we could then take the time and the steps to build a more enduring peace.”

She said U.S. President Joe Biden has had multiple calls over the last week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of Egypt and Qatar to push the deal forward.

“Though gaps remain, the key elements are on the table” and it remains the best opportunity to reunite hostages with their families and enable a prolonged pause in fighting which would allow lifesaving aid to get to Palestinian civilians who desperately need it, Thomas-Greenfield said. Qatar said Saturday the talks “have not been progressing as expected.”

By contrast, the Arab-backed resolution wouldn’t achieve those 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.”

The 22 Arab countries at the United Nations have been demanding a ceasefire for months as Israel’s military offensive in response to the Hamas attacks has intensified, with the number of Palestinians killed surpassing 28,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The Arab Group chair this month, Tunisia’s U.N. Ambassador Tarek Ladeb, told U.N. reporters last Wednesday that some 1.5 million Palestinians who sought safety in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah face a “catastrophic scenario” if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with a potential evacuation of civilians and military offensive in the area bordering Egypt.

Netanyahu ordered the military to come up with a plan for Rafah’s evacuation, but Israel hasn’t announced a timeline.

The Algeria draft resolution also expresses “grave concern over the dire and urgently deteriorating humanitarian situation ” in Gaza and reiterates the council’s call for unhindered humanitarian access throughout the territory, where U.N. officials say a quarter of the 2.3 million population are facing starvation.

The Security Council has adopted two resolutions on Gaza, with the U.S., Israel’s closest ally, abstaining on both.

Its first resolution on Nov. 15 called for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” in Gaza to address the escalating crisis for Palestinian civilians during Israel’s aerial and ground attacks.

On Dec. 22, the council adopted a watered-down resolution calling for immediately speeding aid deliveries to hungry and desperate civilians in Gaza, but without the original plea for an “urgent suspension of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas.

It did call for “creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.” The steps are not defined, but diplomats said it was the council’s first reference to stopping fighting.

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