US says new UN draft on Gaza war will not improve the dire situation in Rafah

New York, New York - The US is wary of a new UN resolution on the war in Gaza, its deputy ambassador said Wednesday, as a draft seeks an immediate ceasefire and a halt to Israel's offensive in Rafah.

A Palestinian woman holds the shrouded body of child killed in Israeli bombardment, at a health clinic in the area of Tel al-Sultan in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.
A Palestinian woman holds the shrouded body of child killed in Israeli bombardment, at a health clinic in the area of Tel al-Sultan in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.  © Eyad BABA / AFP

Algeria called an urgent UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday after an Israeli strike killed 45 people at a tent camp in Rafah for displaced people on Sunday, drawing international condemnation.

"We've said from the beginning that any kind of additional product on the situation right now probably is not going to be helpful," deputy US envoy Robert Wood told reporters, referring to a text from the council.

"It's not going to change the situation on the ground."

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Algeria started circulating its draft among fellow members of the Security Council after the emergency meeting.

The draft resolution, which draws on last week's ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), "decides that Israel, the occupying Power, shall immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in Rafah."

It also "demands an immediate ceasefire respected by all parties, and also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages."

No vote on the text has been scheduled yet.

"We don't think another resolution is really going to change the dynamics on the ground," said Wood.

Wood said the US, which freely uses its veto power in the Security Council to protect Israel, believes that negotiations in the region are the proper way to achieve a ceasefire.

In Washington, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the Algerian text is imbalanced and fails to note that "Hamas is to blame for this conflict."

Gaza-based Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar could end the fighting right away if he agreed to a ceasefire and hostage release deal, Kirby said.

In early May indirect talks between Israel and Hamas failed to achieve a ceasefire and a hostage and prisoner release deal. Qatar, Egypt, and the US acted as intermediaries.

UN Security Council ambassadors speak out against Israel's Rafah offensive

In a meeting on Wednesday, many members of the UN Security Council noted the ICJ ruling last week ordering Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah immediately.
In a meeting on Wednesday, many members of the UN Security Council noted the ICJ ruling last week ordering Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah immediately.  © Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

In a meeting on Wednesday, many members of the Security Council noted the ICJ ruling last week ordering Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah immediately.

"This council should speak out urgently on the situation in Rafah and call for an end to this offensive," French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said.

The ambassador from Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, said her country felt helpless "in the face of the dehumanization of a people, disregard for the rule of law and impunity."

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"When will it end? Who can make it end?" she asked.

"And yet, we cannot afford to remain silent, as too many have already been tragically silenced, forever, in this war," said Rodrigues-Birkett.

After passing two resolutions centered on the need for humanitarian aid to people in Gaza, in March the Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire – an appeal that had been blocked several times before by the United States, Israel's main ally.

Washington, increasingly frustrated with how Israel is waging the war and its mounting civilian death toll, allowed that resolution to pass by abstaining from voting.

Cover photo: Eyad BABA / AFP

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