The US suggests a resolution to the UN requesting a “temporary ceasefire” in Gaza.

The US suggests a resolution to the UN requesting a “temporary ceasefire” in Gaza.

The United States has drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip “as soon as practical” and opposing an Israeli ground offensive on the southern city of Rafah.

The draft, seen by Al Jazeera on Monday, said the Security Council should underscore “its support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practical, based on the formula of all hostages being released” while also “lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale” in Gaza.

The US draft also warns Israel not to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, saying: “The Security Council should underscore that such a major ground offensive should not proceed, under the current circumstances.”

Israel has said it plans to storm Rafah, where more than 1.4 million of the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza have sought shelter. Those plans have prompted widespread international concern that such a move would kill large numbers of civilians and sharply worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is on the brink of famine, according to the UN.

Algeria, the current Arab member of the Security Council, put forward an initial draft resolution more than two weeks ago, which would demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel’s war on Gaza.

The Algerian draft resolution was due to be put to a vote on Tuesday. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield previously signalled that it would be vetoed, saying it could jeopardise the “sensitive negotiations” on the captives taken by Hamas and other armed groups from Israel into Gaza on October 7.

The US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar have held negotiations on a potential Israel-Hamas truce and the exchange of captives held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Reporting from UN headquarters in New York, Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays says Washington’s draft resolution appeared to show a significant change in language.

“For the first time, the US is proposing the word ceasefire. … That is significant because Israel did not want the word ceasefire in any resolution, and now it is the US which is proposing it,” Bays said.

Since October 7, Washington has sought to shield its ally Israel from UN action and has twice vetoed Security Council resolutions. But it has also abstained twice, allowing the council to adopt resolutions that aimed to boost humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza and called for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in fighting.

“The US draft now raises the idea of a ceasefire but does not say there should be one straight away, …. so this may not be acceptable to the Russians,” Bays said.

Both the US and Russia are veto-wielding permanent members of the council.

Noting Washington’s warning to Israel on launching an operation in Rafah, Bays said it showed that, according to the US, this operation would cause further harm to civilians and also lead to their displacement, particularly into neighbouring countries, which would in turn have serious implications on regional security.

“So something very clearly has changed in Washington in the last 24 hours. They’ve decided to be tougher on Israel,” Bays said.

It is not immediately clear when or if the US draft resolution would be put to a vote.

At least 29,092 people have been killed and 69,028 wounded in the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip since October 7, according to Palestinian authorities. At least 1,139 people were killed in the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on October 7, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on official Israeli figures.

Zahid Arab

Zahid Arab

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