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US allows UN Security Council to pass resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The U.N. Security Council is demanding a cease-fire in Gaza for the final two weeks of Ramadan. The U.S. allowed the resolution to be approved, which angered Israel, which is now refusing to send a delegation to Washington to talk about ways to avoid a full-scale military operation in southern Gaza. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: This was the first time the Security Council came together to demand a cease fire in Gaza, even if only for the remaining weeks of Ramadan. Diplomats seemed relieved that the U.S. didn't veto this time.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The draft resolution has been adopted as Resolution 2728.

KELEMEN: The resolution demands an immediate cease-fire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says the U.S. supports those objectives and has been working on a new hostage deal, along with Qatar and Egypt.

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LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: A cease-fire could have come about months ago if Hamas had been willing to release hostages months ago. Instead, Hamas continues to stand in the way of peace, to throw up roadblocks, cower in tunnels beneath Gaza's cities under civilian infrastructure and hide among the civilian population.

KELEMEN: Thomas-Greenfield is urging Security Council members to do more to press Hamas to agree to a deal that is on the table, something she says a U.S. draft resolution would have done, though it was vetoed last week by Russia and China. Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the Security Council that the cease-fire demand will undermine those hostage talks.

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GILAD ERDAN: Despite the fact that you know Hamas won't listen to your calls and release the hostages, you demand a cease-fire. Take a moment and think about this moral contradiction.

KELEMEN: Erdan called today's vote shameful. The Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, called it historic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RIYAD MANSOUR: This must be a turning point. This must lead to saving lives on the ground. This must signal the end of this assault of atrocities against our people.

KELEMEN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was furious that the U.S. abstained in the vote, and he canceled plans for high-level talks in Washington on alternatives to a military operation in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering. U.S. officials say a ground operation there would be a mistake, and they plan to continue to try to talk Israel out of it. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michele Kelemen
Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.