The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution on Wednesday, drafted by Malta, urging “extended humanitarian pauses” in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The resolution received 12 votes in favor, three abstentions (USA, UK, and Russia), and no votes against. Notably, it marks the first resolution on the conflict passed by the UNSC after four failed attempts. The resolution calls for the release of hostages, particularly children held by Hamas, and urges an urgent days-long ceasefire for humanitarian aid entry into Gaza.
The UNSC has successfully adopted Malta’s resolution regarding the Middle East conflict. Our commitment for peace remains unwavering. – RA
— Robert Abela (@RobertAbela_MT) November 15, 2023
It emphasises the evacuation of the sick and injured and calls for refraining from depriving Gazans of basic services. Despite Malta’s call for a ceasefire, the resolution uses the term “extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” to allow aid, repairs, and evacuations.
The careful wording reflects the divided UNSC perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, with Russia and China on one side and the United States on the other. The US opposed the term “ceasefire,” opting for terms like “truce” or “pause.”
Malta’s ambassador, Vanessa Frazier, called it an “important first step,” emphasising the shared desire among council members to save lives.
While the US and UK abstained, expressing support for the resolution’s purposes, Russia cited deficiencies and the absence of an immediate ceasefire in its abstention.
The Palestinian representative criticized the resolution for not explicitly calling for a ceasefire, while Israel deemed it “detached from reality.”
Frazier, drawing on her experience aiding refugees from Libya, thanked Malta for trust and acknowledged the UNSC’s delayed response. She expressed disappointment at Israel’s swift dismissal, emphasizing the resolution’s binding nature.
#UNSC just adopted Res2712 tabled by 🇲🇹 Malta. It calls for urgent & extended humanitarian corridors in Gaza Strip + unconditional release of hostages, esp. children. Our efforts were guided by the need to have a humanitarian Res. We are determined to continue working towards… pic.twitter.com/oSMZwr7bEU
— Ian Borg (@MinisterIanBorg) November 15, 2023
The next step involves the UN Secretary-General reporting on resolution implementation. Despite Malta’s constitutional neutrality, its stance has shifted during the conflict.
Minister Borg previously called for a ceasefire, and Prime Minister Abela underscored Israel’s right to defend itself but condemned civilian casualties. The resolution aims to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where hospitals like Al Shifa face attacks, with Israel claiming a Hamas headquarters beneath.