NEW YORK – UN Security Council members who opposed passing a resolution before talks in Egypt had wrapped up have only two things left to debate: language, and how to get Israel and Hamas to respect the resolution it passes.
For weeks before the deal in Cairo, questions about the purpose and power of a resolution swirled around UN headquarters.
How, journalists have asked, will UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ensure that an edict by the UN’s most powerful governing body is obeyed? And what if it’s not? What’s the punishment? And if neither side adheres to the terms of a resolution, what’s the point of passing one? The most notable difference between Resolution 1860, passed toward the end of Operation Cast Lead in 2009, and the language in the European “Elements” working document, is the inclusion of a monitoring mission, meant to oversee the implementation of a UN edict.
“Elements,” a copy of which was obtained by UN Report over the weekend, is a draft of language and points that the European coalition, comprised of the UK, France, and Germany, wants to see in any resolution up for discussion.
In January 2009, the Security Council passed Resolution 1860, which, among other things, called for the end of the blockade on the Gaza Strip and the stoppage of illicit arms deals. Since then, the blockade has not been lifted, and Hamas has rearmed.
Both sides have violated the resolution, which passed with 14 yes votes, the United States abstaining.
Condoleezza Rice, who was then secretary of state, explained the decision by the US not to cast a vote: “The United States thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation efforts in order to see what this resolution might have been supporting.”
This is a similar narrative to the one that’s played out in the Security Council over the last couple of weeks, during the bumpy road to a cease-fire agreement brokered by Egypt.
One faction within the UN, including the PLO, Jordan, and the other members of the Arab group at the UN, have supported immediate action, and believe the council has waited too long.
The other side, which includes the US and European countries, believes that it was important for the council not to pass a resolution until after a cease-fire agreement had been decided on in Egypt.
In a Tweet Tuesday evening, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power called for both parties to respect the truce agreement.
“Today’s cease-fire in Gaza is a welcome opportunity for an enduring end to hostilities. The parties must now fully comply with its terms,” she said.
Now that the cease-fire deal is settled, it’s only a matter of time before a resolution drafted in consultation with other council members is brought to the table that both European powers and the US will support.
On Tuesday, as she was entering the council chambers, Jordan’s permanent observer to the UN, Dina Kawar, said that she expected a resolution to be brought in front of the council either this week or next.