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Sabra Express | UNSNUB

CNBC, March 26th 2024



The United States abstained from a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) vote, allowing the passage of a resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas.


The Context:

·      The war in Gaza was sparked by an unprecedented attack, during which Hamas killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Hamas also seized 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes around 130 are still held in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

·      After vetoing three previous draft resolutions, the Biden administration allowed the UNSC to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip [1]. Previously, the US had conditioned calls for a ceasefire on the release of hostages [2]. While the resolution called for a hostage release, it was not linked to the ceasefire. The Biden administration tried to talk the abstention down, saying it was no “shift in policy” [3].  

·      The decision infuriated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cancelled a visit by an Israeli delegation that had been set to travel to Washington for talks on Israel's planned military operation in Rafah [4]. The US is urging Israel not to launch an offensive in Rafah — where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering [5]. Israel insists it will invade Rafah to destroy Hamas’ last stronghold even without US support [6].

·      According to the US, resolution 2728 is understood to be non-binding and is not expected to have an immediate impact on the ongoing fighting in Gaza, [7] however, the UN insists "all resolutions of the [UNSC] are international law” and that “ultimately, implementation is a question of international will." The UNSC can impose sanctions and authorize military force to enforce resolutions [8].  

·      Hamas welcomed the resolution [9] and rejected Israel’s latest offer for a ceasefire deal. Hamas continued to launch rockets at several Israeli communities near the Gaza border and at Israeli soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip [10].


Conversation Points:

·      Is an abstention equivalent to a yes vote?

·      Why didn’t the resolution directly link a ceasefire with a hostage release?

·      Will other countries increase their pressure on Israel knowing that America’s support is wavering?

·      Does international support matter to Hamas?

·      Should Netanyahu have cancelled his delegation’s trip to the US?



1.     The US Just Fired a First Diplomatic Shot at Israel, Andreas Kluth, Bloomberg, March 26, 2024

3.     The US Just Fired a First Diplomatic Shot at Israel, Andreas Kluth, Bloomberg, March 26, 2024

5.     Ibid.

6.     The US Just Fired a First Diplomatic Shot at Israel, Andreas Kluth, Bloomberg, March 26, 2024 

8.     The UN Security Council demanded a Gaza ceasefire - what happens now?, Michelle Nichols, Reuters, March 26, 2024

9.     PM nixes DC delegation after US fails to veto UNSC resolution calling for immediate ceasefire, EVE YOUNG, HANNAH SARISOHN, Jerusalem Post, MARCH 25, 2024


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