Gaza Strip: what will the UN resolution achieve?

The UN Security Council has adopted an appeal for an "immediate ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip, with 14 votes in favour and the US abstaining. The resolution calls for both a ceasefire until the end of Ramadan and the release of the hostages taken by the radical Islamic Hamas organisation. Israel has reacted with outrage, while Hamas has thanked the Security Council but demanded that the hostages be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners.

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La Stampa (IT) /

Bibi may have miscalculated

Netanyahu is undeterred by the resolution, complains La Stampa:

“Terrible for the two million or so Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, who are living in deteriorating food and hygiene conditions and constantly at risk of dying in the war. And strategically devastating for the Israeli government, which is on a collision course with the Biden administration. ... Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping to get away with it, but this time he may have miscalculated. ... Washington has an important bargaining chip: the steady flow of military supplies essential to Israel's ongoing campaign against Gaza. Will Biden turn off the tap? Or will he confine himself to disapproving of Israel's actions? Benjamin Netanyahu is betting on the latter.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Anger over ceasefire before hostage release wording

The wording of the resolution is highly political, Der Standard comments:

“One thing that has contributed to Netanyahu's angry reaction is the mention of ceasefire before hostage release in the text of the resolution. This formulation has been on the table for weeks - but not in this order. The US has accepted this in order to allow movement in the Security Council after the failure of its own text. Apparently Washington sees this as the only hope of persuading other players such as Russia and China to exert pressure on their allies to get the region through Ramadan without a conflagration.”

France Inter (FR) /

Israel has much to lose

Negotiations in Qatar could offer a way out, columnist Pierre Haski comments in France Inter:

“Things will become delicate if Israel refuses to respect the UN's appeal. One way out of the foreseeable impasse would be to speed up an agreement in Qatar, with the aim of negotiating a ceasefire that would allow hostages to be exchanged for prisoners and access for humanitarian aid to Gaza. The setback that Netanyahu has just suffered would be masked by the return of the hostages. Israel would have much to lose from the growing isolation that a challenge to the UN would entail.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

A resolution won't save the starving people

The Irish Examiner demands more resolute action:

“It is difficult to muster enthusiasm for the UN Security Council's demand for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza when starving people go to bed at night feeling as if they are lying in their own coffins. ... It is unconscionable that aid trucks are being restricted on the wrong side of the border when children are suffering from acute malnutrition. It is time to stop the violence and flood the region with desperately needed aid. But we can't lose sight of the fact that the US (and the West) are delivering aid with one hand and weapons with the other.”

Cicero (DE) /

The army must take Rafah

A ceasefire now would only benefit Hamas, Cicero insists:

“A ceasefire, including the stipulated withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza, would give Hamas the opportunity to regroup and retake control of the entire Gaza Strip. This is precisely why Israel insists on taking Rafah, where the Israeli hostages are also believed to be held. Otherwise Hamas would remain undefeated, and all previous war efforts would be in vain. And then a massacre like that of 7 October could happen again at any time.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Potentially counterproductive

The resolution could torpedo the negotiations between the belligerent parties, De Telegraaf fears:

“Israel and Hamas are holding indirect ceasefire talks in Qatar. The main lines are clear: in a first phase, the release of 40 Israeli hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. However, Hamas can now point to the resolution and insist that the international community is calling for an immediate ceasefire anyway. Israel, for its part, can argue that it does not have to give anything in exchange for the release of the hostages because the Security Council demands that this should happen without conditions.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Biden losing patience

Zeit Online interprets the US abstention as the first visible sign of a rift between Biden and Netanyahu:

“Biden had already changed his tone towards Netanyahu, whom he has known for decades. He spoke of his 'deep concern' regarding the planned Israeli ground invasion in Rafah. ... Officially there is no shift in policy, Biden announced via his National Security Advisor John Kirby. The president will not give up his loyalty to Israel any time soon. ... But the US president - as the UN resolution shows - is increasingly losing patience with a completely intransigent Netanyahu. It would be foolish not to take this seriously.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Israel can't just brush this off

La Stampa sees Netanyahu under real pressure now:

“The UN's action, combined with the ongoing proceedings in The Hague, is putting the Israeli armed forces under serious pressure. ... To continue the operations as if nothing had happened - to say nothing of storming the huge refugee camp that Rafah has become - would mean exposing Israel to further accusations of violating international law. The Israeli prime minister's harsh reaction is a sign that Joe Biden has struck him at the core.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Only one side under international pressure

Commenting in The Spectator, social scientist Limor Simhony is fiercely critical of the demand for a ceasefire:

“The UN resolution is highly unlikely to result in the release of hostages by Hamas. Throughout the war, UN officials have been consistently and vehemently anti-Israeli, while offering only weak condemnations of Hamas. ... This resolution, combined with the ongoing public criticism of Israel, could encourage Hamas to toughen their stance, and undermine the efforts to reach a deal, resulting in tragic consequences for the Israeli hostages and for Palestinian civilians. Israeli officials called the resolution 'problematic', because Hamas cannot be coerced into anything. Israel will be the only one under international pressure but the other side will not be.”

Politiken (DK) /

Elections a prerequisite for peace

Politiken looks further into the future:

“If there is to be a realistic chance of peace, a change of government is needed on both sides. Israelis should now demand elections and topple the Netanyahu government, which has failed to protect the people and whose brutal warfare has caused enormous damage to Israel's international reputation. And the Palestinians should be given the opportunity to elect new leaders and a joint government for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas have implemented an increasingly dubious democratic mandate for far too long. It is time for change.”

Delo (SI) /

International community faces colossal tasks

For Delo, this resolution is just the beginning:

“The international community is facing a historic moment. In addition to security in Israel, whose inhabitants experienced their worst tragedy since the Holocaust on 7 October, it must ensure that the entire region moves towards basic civilisational standards of democracy. At the same time, it must stop the advance of the Iranian ayatollahs, aided by Hamas, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Yemeni Houthis, and also prevent the rise of other autocratic forces such as Russia. The world is at a turning point and the UN resolution on Gaza, even if it was not easily adopted, is just the beginning of the hard work.”