Saturday, January 10, 2009

UNSC Votes for Ceasefire in Gaza

UNSC votes for ceasefire in Gaza

09 January 2009 Friday 22:14

Commentary by William O. Beeman: Coverage of the fighting in Gaza has been scant in the United States. Iran's PressTV is one of the only entities with broadcasts on the ground and running commentary. Their coverage is being picked up by the international press, including this story from Haber27 (Haber="news"), a major Turkish news site. Americans who want accurate information about the events in Gaza are advised to seek non-U.S. sources for their information.

The UN Security Council has voted for an immediate and durable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces. However, the United States abstained from voting on the ceasefire resolution while all other fourteen members voted in favor of the binding resolution.

Resolution 1860 also called for 'unimpeded provision' and distribution of aid in the coastal enclave and the reopening of all border crossings to the region, which has been under Israeli siege during the past eight months.

Earlier Friday, Saudi Arabia and Britain said that a final text on the Gaza conflict was agreed on by Western and Arab nations.

And they were expecting a vote by the UN Security Council in New York, after diplomats spent three days forging the language.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, called the compromise 'a historic event,' speaking to reporters late Thursday following hours of negotiations between the two sides.

However, after showing up late for the meeting, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice abstained from voting.

The US abstention dashed all the hopes that diplomats had previously fostered for a unanimous vote in favor of the resolution, Press TV's Mike Mazzocco reported from the UN headquarters on Thursday.

Now all delegations, especially those looking for a ceasefire, are looking to Israel to stop its military incursion into Gaza, he added.

"At this point no one is sure whether this resolution will be backed up by force or at all if Israel does not withdraw its forces from Gaza. Palestinian delegation says they expect two more days of the Israeli incursion into Gaza," said the correspondent.

Mazzocco pointed out that Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev had walked out of the meeting in a huff, brushing off reporters and giving no indication that Tel Aviv planned to implement the resolution.

"Responsibility for the current hostilities lies squarely with Hamas… The international community must focus its attention on the cessation of Hamas's terrorist activity," Shalev told the Council.

Rice's comments during the meeting indicated that the US was unhappy with the fact that the resolution did not include an explicit condemnation of Hamas, Mazzocco reported.

Commenting on the resolution, Professor William Beeman of the University of Minnesota said that the call for ceasefire endangers the absolute victory that Israel seeks.

Despite US efforts to give Israel more time to destroy Hamas the regime has been battling in Gaza for two weeks without much success, said Beeman, referring to the three UN motions that the US has vetoed since the beginning of the conflict.

"Israel can not be successful in Gaza. Nevertheless they are reaching very hard for a victory that can not take place," he added.

Meanwhile, Arab League chief Amr Mussa welcomed the resolution and stressed that 'there was no American veto.'

"The important thing is for Israel to respect and implement the will of the international community," he added.

Other Arab officials also welcomed the motion as they are under heavy pressure from their people to prevent the continuation of Israel's 14-day onslaught against Gazans.

Following the adoption of the resolution, US Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that he was relieved to see the motion pass through and called on all sides to 'fully' respect its content.

"I am heartened and relieved at the adoption by the Council today of a resolution to bring an end to this tragic situation. Your decision signals the will of the international community. It must be fully respected by all parties to this conflict," he said.

Just hours after the council voted for the resolution Israeli fire hit at least thirty targets in the Gaza Strip, killing at least nine other Palestinians including four children.
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