9586th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Demands Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza for Month of Ramadan, Adopting Resolution 2728 (2024) with 14 Members Voting in Favour, United States Abstaining

After 171 days of war in Gaza, the Security Council today adopted a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties, leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire, while many speakers underscored that this is only the first step towards a permanent ceasefire.

Introducing the draft on behalf of the 10 elected Council members, the representative of Mozambique stressed the need to end the catastrophe in Gaza, which is “a clear threat to international peace and security”.  The Council has been consistently unanimous in its agreement on the parties’ obligations to respect international law.  While the adopted text is an important step the Council can build upon to address the situation in Gaza, he emphasized that it is essential to work towards a comprehensive ceasefire and a lasting peace in the region.

The speaker for the Russian Federation said that the fact his delegation learned of a proposal to replace the word “permanent” — in relation to a ceasefire in operative paragraph 1 — with weaker wording approximately an hour before today’s meeting was “unacceptable”.  Also noting that the remaining text is too subject to interpretation, he said this could allow Israel to resume military operations in Gaza at any moment following the expiry of the ceasefire that will hopefully be established today.  He, therefore, proposed an oral amendment to return the word “permanent” to operative paragraph 1. 

By a vote of 3 in favour (Algeria, China, Russian Federation) to 1 against (United States), with 11 abstentions, the Council rejected the amendment, owing to the failure to obtain the required number of votes.

The Council then adopted the resolution 2728 (2024) (to be issued as document S/RES/2728(2024)) by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention (United States).  By its terms, it demanded an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties, leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire.  It also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs.

By other terms, the Council emphasized the urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance and reinforce the protection of civilians in Gaza.  It also demanded the lifting of all barriers to humanitarian assistance at scale, in line with international humanitarian law as well as Council resolutions 2712 (2023) and 2720 (2023).

“Finally, the Security Council is shouldering its responsibility,” said Algeria’s delegate, welcoming the adoption of this long-awaited resolution.  “This bloodbath has continued for far too long,” he observed, adding that the adoption of today’s resolution is only the beginning of meeting the aspirations of the Palestinian people.  “The international community […] did not abandon you, it feels your suffering,” he said, stressing that it is the Council’s responsibility to ensure the implementation of the text’s provisions.

The United States’s representative said that while her delegation did not agree with everything in the resolution — and therefore was unable to vote in favour — it supports “some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution” and that the Council must make clear that the release of all hostages accompany any ceasefire.

“Today, this Council spoke out in support of the ongoing diplomatic efforts led by [my country], Qatar and Egypt” to bring about an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, secure the immediate release of all hostages and help alleviate the tremendous suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” she said.  Washington, D.C., fully supports these critical objectives, which was the foundation of the resolution it recently put forward that the Russian Federation and China vetoed.  Underscoring that a ceasefire “could have come about months ago” if Hamas had been willing to release the hostages, she called on Member States to demand unequivocally that “Hamas accepts the deal on the table”. 

France’s delegate said it was “high time” for the Council to establish a ceasefire, demand the release of hostages and call for comprehensive humanitarian assistance.  “The Security Council’s silence on Gaza was becoming deafening,” he said.  Noting that today’s adoption demonstrates that the Council can still act when its members make the necessary effort to discharge the organ’s mandate, he observed:  Now, the Council must contribute to solving this crisis — which is not over — and, following Ramadan, the organ will have to establish a permanent ceasefire, work towards recovery and stabilization in Gaza and get a political process back on track to effect a two-State solution.

In the same vein, Guyana’s delegate welcomed that the Council has “finally” been able to adopt a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire — albeit for the month of Ramadan.  The reality faced by the population of Gaza has worsened daily since 7 October as the occupying Power continues its atrocities and, today, the Council has chosen to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. “It is long overdue, but it is still the right thing to have done,” she observed.  However, this is just the beginning and “the task before us now” is to secure full compliance with the texts and preceding resolutions 2712 (2023) and 2720 (2023).  Adding that Ramadan will end in 15 days, she called on the Council — and those with influence over the parties — to immediately redouble efforts to effect a lasting, sustainable ceasefire, secure the release of hostages and massively scale up humanitarian assistance.

Underlining the need to ensure the immediate and unconditional implementation of the resolution, the representatives of Malta and Ecuador noted the diplomatic efforts of Egypt, Qatar and the United States to reach an agreement between the parties to the conflict. 

The speaker for the Republic of Korea pointed out that today’s resolution was the first-ever adopted text introduced by elected Council members on a regional agenda item.  To have significance beyond Council politics, it must have a tangible impact in Gaza by saving the lives of civilians and easing the humanitarian crisis.  “The situation on the ground in Gaza must be different before and after this resolution,” he stressed.  This will only be possible when both Israel and Hamas respect and implement today’s resolution, which — while not explicitly coercive under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations — reflects the international community's consensus.

Slovenia’s delegate said that the resolution’s adoption “signals a day that will help silence the guns, stop the killing, free the hostages, (…) and clear the sky over Gaza”.  The Council showed that it can find “unity for peace”.  However, today’s resolution is just the beginning and “we will need more of this unity for Gaza as well as for many other conflicts,” he added. 

“This vote should mark a return to greater humanity in the Middle East conflict,” said his counterpart from Switzerland, noting that it demonstrates the weight that elected members can have when the Council’s blockages disrupt the fulfilment of its mandate.  “An immediate ceasefire is a priority step, but it is only the first step, given the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza,” she said.  For the resolution to be effectively implemented, the immediate ceasefire must lead without delay to a durable, sustainable ceasefire.  Similarly, given the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that a large-scale operation in Rafah would have on the civilian population and humanitarian operations, such an operation must be avoided, she asserted.

The fighting, the killing and the collective punishment must stop, stated the speaker for Sierra Leone, recognizing the collective struggle of Palestinians.  He underscored that the parties to the conflict are obliged to respect the Council’s demand and urged States with influence to apply necessary pressure on the parties to implement this resolution.  Given that half of the population in Gaza is facing acute food shortages, with an immediate risk of famine, the emphasis on the urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to reinforce the protection of civilians in Gaza is “most significant”, he stressed.

The representative of Japan, Council President for March and one of the co-penholders of today’s resolution, welcomed that the Council adopted a text proposed by its elected members.  He also expressed support for ongoing diplomatic efforts — particularly the “four-party talks” — towards a ceasefire in connection with the release of all remaining hostages.  Such a ceasefire can pave the path towards sustainable peace and stability in the region, he added.

The speaker for the United Kingdom said that her country has long called for an immediate humanitarian pause leading to a sustainable ceasefire as the fastest way to get hostages out and aid in.  “This is what this resolution calls for, and why [London] voted yes on this text,” she stated, nevertheless expressing regret that the text did not condemn the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October. Calling for the resolution’s immediate implementation, she urged the formation of a new Palestinian Government for the West Bank and Gaza, accompanied by an international support package; the removal of Hamas’ capacity to launch attacks against Israel and its overseeing of Gaza; and the establishment of a political horizon providing a credible, irreversible path towards a two-State solution.

China’s delegate, recalling the resolution proposed by the United States on 22 March that his country, the Russian Federation and Algeria voted against, said the current text is “unequivocal and correct” in its demand for an immediate ceasefire while the previous one was “evasive and ambiguous”. The current draft also reflects the international community’s general expectations and enjoys the collective support of Arab States, while those countries jointly rejected the previous one. After repeatedly vetoing Council action, the United States finally decided to stop obstructing the organ’s demand for an immediate ceasefire.  And, while that country still tries to find excuses and make accusations against China, the “eyes of the international community are open and discerning”.  While “today’s resolution comes too late”, he said that it could still “bring long-awaited hope” if it is fully implemented.

For the first time, the Council is demanding the observance of an immediate ceasefire, even if limited for the month of Ramadan, noted the speaker for the Russian Federation.  “Unfortunately, what happens after that ends remains unclear,” he cautioned, noting that the word “lasting” could be interpreted in “various different ways”.  “We want to believe that this wording will be used in the interest of peace rather than advancing the inhumane Israeli operation against the Palestinians,” he stressed, noting the wording “permanent” would be more precise.  While it is fundamental to vote in favour of peace, the Council must continue to work towards achieving a permanent ceasefire.

He further pointed out that the vote on the amendment tabled by his delegation uncovered who truly wants to end — rather than suspend — the inhumane Israeli operation.  Also, what took place today is a response to those who criticize the veto power of the permanent members — if the Russian Federation and China had not used it on 22 March, “we could have ended up with a very harmful text that would have given Israel a license to continue its actions against the Palestinians, including in Rafah.”  He also condemned international terrorism, including the 7 October Hamas attack and the recent terrorist attack in Moscow, which took 143 “entirely innocent lives”.

The representative of Yemen, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, stated:  “We should consider this resolution as a first step, leading to a binding resolution that stipulates the immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to compel Israel to immediately and without any preconditions cease the war.”  He underlined the need to ensure that the Council — which has been the hostage of political calculations and narrow interests — is shouldering its legal and moral responsibilities.  While the adoption of today’s text comes as a response to Palestinian victims, it is vital to focus not just on a temporary ceasefire but on reaching a comprehensive, final ceasefire to allow the delivery of all humanitarian assistance to Gaza and to put an end to the forceful displacement of Palestinians. 

“This resolution reaffirms that Israeli occupation forces do not have free reign in perpetrating massacres against women and children,” he continued, warning that Israel’s plans to launch a ground offensive against Rafah “will cause an unacceptable humanitarian catastrophe”.  Stressing that Israel must be held accountable for its crimes, he urged the imposition of strict sanctions on settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and on those who are inciting violence or perpetrating acts of violence against Palestinians.

The speaker for Israel, while noting that the Council was quick to condemn the recent terror attack in Moscow, pointed out that the organ still refuses to condemn “the most widespread and barbaric massacre suffered by the Jewish people since the Holocaust”.  Asking why the Council discriminates between Russians murdered at a concert and Israelis murdered at a music festival, he said:  “Hamas has converted every inch of Gaza into a terror war machine right under the UN’s nose — maybe with the help of some of the UN’s agencies, like UNRWA.”  Turning to today’s resolution, he said that — while the text denounces the taking of hostages — the Council has not taken a single step towards this end apart from symbolic words.  He also pointed out that, so long as Hamas refuses to release the hostages as a result of diplomatic efforts, there is no way to secure their return other than through a military operation. 

Thus, the Council’s demand for a ceasefire — without conditioning such a measure on the release of hostages — undermines efforts to secure their release, he stressed.  Stating that all Council members “should have voted against this shameful resolution”, he suggested an alternative text that the Council should have adopted “if it wasn’t so biased against Israel”.  Such a resolution would have had the Council condemn all human rights abuses and violations of international law by the terrorist group; demand that the group disarm, demobilize and immediately cease all hostilities; and demand the immediate release of all those who remain in captivity. Pointing out that Israel did not draft such a text — rather, the Council adopted it 10 years ago when Boko Haram kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria — he asked why the Council can call on Boko Haram to lay down their arms but cannot demand the same of murderous Hamas terrorists. Answering, he said:  “To this Council, Israeli blood is cheap.”

The observer for the State of Palestine said:  “It has taken 6 months, over 100,000 Palestinians killed and maimed, 2 million displaced, and famine for this Council to finally demand an immediate ceasefire.”  Today’s adoption is “a vote for humanity and life to prevail”.  The Palestinians in Gaza pleaded and appealed, shouted, cried, cursed, prayed, and yet, continue to face death, destruction, deprivation, disease and famine.  They are being killed in their homes, in the streets, hospitals, UN shelters and tents. “Their ordeal must come to an immediate end now,” he declared, adding that, “there is no home sheltering them, no table to gather around and no food to eat”.  While such atrocities are being committed in broad daylight against defenceless civilians, Palestinian families cannot mourn or heal. 

There can be no justification for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, he continued.  Accepting any justification for such crimes is “renouncing our humanity and destroying the rule of international law beyond repair”.  The International Court of Justice ordered Israel to undertake immediate measures in relation to its mass and indiscriminate killings of Palestinians.  Instead of implementing this order, Israel has doubled down in the commission of its crimes.  By using starvation as a weapon of war, it is responsible for the famine under way in Gaza. Further, Israel attacked civilians in the very places it asked them to hide.  “It killed them if they stayed and killed them if they left.”  Now it continues to threaten a ground operation in Rafah where it has pushed and confined Palestinians at the very edge of the Gaza Strip in yet another attempt to forcibly displace them.  Despite its atrocities, Israel has been afforded impunity as countries continue to treat it as an ally, he pointed out.

Now that this Council has finally called for a ceasefire, all forces should ensure it is enforced, he asserted, adding:  “This must be a turning point, this must lead to saving lives on the ground, this must signal an end of these atrocities against the Palestinians — a nation is being murdered, […] disposed [and] displaced for decades now — but never at this scale since the Nakba, never this openly”.  However, he said that even if the ceasefire happened now and the siege was lifted, “it would take generations to deal with the trauma and devastation”.

At the outset of the meeting, the Council observed a minute of silence for the victims of the 22 March terrorist attack in Moscow.

For information media. Not an official record.