UN votes on Gaza

On 25 March 2024, after much deliberation, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2728, calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war on Gaza, effective for the short remainder of the month of Ramadan. Put forward by elected members of the UN body, including Algeria and Mozambique, the motion was bolstered by Chinese and Russian backing. Attempting to appear as the peacemaker while declaring its ongoing solidarity with the genocidal occupation, imperialist Britain played a pernicious role, voting in favour, while supporting the aims of the aggression. In a step unprecedented in recent times, the US abstained, allowing the censure of the Zionist state to pass. As a broad front of Palestinian resistance organisations declared, this UN resolution may reveal fissures in US-Israeli relations, but can only prove effective with real pressure to end the Zionist war.

The outraged response from Israeli government figures was, of course, predictable. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the cancellation of a planned delegation to Washington for talks over the Zionists’ imminent invasion of Rafah. Israeli war minister Yoav Gallant, however, did meet US President Biden but attacked the resolution as ‘scandalous,’ while defending the ‘moral right’ to ongoing Zionist war. Labelling the UN as ‘anti-Semitic’ and a ‘wasteland,’ National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir complained that ‘President Biden is not prioritising Israel and the free world’s victory over terrorism, but rather his own political considerations’. Ben-Gvir and other ministers immediately called for the full invasion of Rafah. Hawks in Tel Aviv predicted a full-scale escalation of the war with Hezbollah in the north.

The US had vetoed three UN ceasefire resolutions since the October 2023 onset of Israel’s genocidal war, most recently on 21 February, when its representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield claimed that supporting the move would stymie peace talks involving Egypt and Qatar. All other security council members had voted in favour except Britain, which abstained three times. The 25 March vote expressed growing unease among the US ruling class regarding the naked brutality of Zionist warfare. Though the military ‘aid’ and language of unceasing allyship continues, imperialist strategists increasingly view Netanyahu as a pariah, with even staunch ally and US presidential candidate Trump warning that Israel risks ‘losing support.’ Dominant sections of the US and European bourgeoisie favour a neocolonial settlement of the Palestinian issue under the auspices of a puppet Palestinian Authority, rather than an open campaign of genocide serving only to provoke more intense resistance, both regionally and within the imperialist metropoles.

The resolution was broadly welcomed by factions of the Palestinian resistance, whose demands included a comprehensive ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the return of displaced people to their homes and a genuine prisoner exchange. These demands were underlined in a Hamas statement, released shortly after the vote, affirming readiness for an immediate release of Zionist POWs. It added that the priority of any international effort must now mean forcing Zionist compliance with the ceasefire. The Popular Resistance Committees called on the Security Council ‘to pressure the Zionist entity to comply with this resolution and to stop the genocide’. On 28 March, the International Court of Justice followed up its January rulings and ordered the Zionist state to take all necessary and effective action to ensure basic food supplies arrive without delay to the Palestinian population in Gaza.

A PFLP statement saw the vote as confirmation ‘that the entire world is fed up with the Zionist entity for the genocide it commits against our people in the Strip.’ The US administration ‘could not bear the consequences’ of another veto, with rising outrage among the general public. The PFLP suggested that the real lesson would come with the fight to implement the resolution, noting that the occupation never implemented a single UN resolution historically. Like the Hamas statement, the PFLP affirmed the right of return for Palestinian refugees, enshrined in UN rulings since 1948. Palestinian Islamic Jihad deputy leader Mohammed al-Hindi pointed out that wrangling over the resolution ‘reflects the isolation Israel is experiencing worldwide, but it will not practically affect any action’. There remained ‘[US] cover for continuing the war and uprooting the resistance’.

At the same time, the standing of a US imperialism facing its own political and economic crises was laid bare in the face of rival action that demanded more. On 22 March, British newspapers screamed that ‘Russia and China block US resolution’ purportedly calling for a ceasefire. In reality it didn’t ‘call’ for anything, but merely referred to the ‘imperative’ of a ceasefire. US demands that Hamas be condemned as a terrorist organisation were rejected in the subsequent resolution. Debating the 25 March vote, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia labelled as ‘unacceptable’ the deletion of the word ‘permanent’ in the ceasefire resolution, while China called for its immediate implementation. Days later, the US agreed to transfer $2.5bn worth of weaponry to the Zionist state, including 1,800 MK84 2,000lb bombs and 500 MK82 500lb bombs which have been central to razing Gaza to the ground.

Britain, meanwhile, played its now traditional role as a cheerleader for the Zionist butchers, living in hope that its own interests may be furthered in the process. Outlining Britain’s decision to vote for the resolution on 25 March, a government explanation called it the surest way to get ‘hostages out’ and ‘aid in.’ Claiming that ‘Israel continues to reckon with the brutal horror of the 7 October attacks’, the statement repeated British condemnation of Hamas ‘terrorism’ twice further over a few short paragraphs. The actuality of the brutal horror inflicted upon Gaza at the hands of the Zionist state is given no reference at all, save for ‘the intense suffering of civilians’ for which no cause is mentioned.

With one hand up voting, the other wielding a knife, Britain’s concerns were laid outrageously bare as its conclusion called for the removal of Hamas – a key Zionist war aim – and the establishment of Palestinian Authority control over Gaza. The same standpoint had been outlined by Labour leader Keir Starmer on 22 December 2023, demanding that ‘Hamas must release all the remaining hostages, end all attacks on Israel and have no role in the future governance of Gaza.’ We must oppose these imperialist plans for Palestine and build the struggle for sanctions on the Zionist state.

Louis Brehony