February 20, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Vetoes One UN Resolution, Proposes Another Opposing Israeli Attack Against Hamas in Rafah

February 20, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Vetoes One UN Resolution, Proposes Another Opposing Israeli Attack Against Hamas in Rafah

Latest Developments

The United States proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution on February 19 that urges Israel not to attack Rafah, Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza. The draft makes clear “that under current circumstances, a major ground offensive into Rafah should not proceed,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. The resolution also calls for “a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

The U.S. resolution rivals an Algerian resolution that Washington vetoed on February 20 due to concerns that it calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire without an agreement to release the hostages. The ambassador stated that the Algerian resolution could “extend the fighting between Hamas and Israel, extend the hostages’ time in captivity, an experience described by former hostages as ‘hell,’ and extend the dire humanitarian crisis Palestinians are facing in Gaza.”

Expert Analysis

“Washington’s UN Security Council resolution could have been a lot shorter. It should have demanded an immediate Hamas surrender, a return of the hostages, and a call for member states to support Israel as it battles a genocidal terror regime. If Hamas lays down its arms and returns the hostages, Rafah wouldn’t become a battleground, and Gazans could begin to rebuild their lives.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“The United States should not be trying to triangulate between good and evil. Washington should veto pro-Hamas resolutions and counter with anti-Hamas resolutions, plain and simple. By proposing a draft that opposes Israeli military action in Rafah — what would likely be Hamas’s last stand — the United States undermines Israel on the battlefield and in hostage talks.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Israel Prepares to Oust Hamas From Rafah

After taking control of much of Gaza, Israeli forces may soon begin operations in Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on February 14 that an Israeli victory includes “powerful action in Rafah … after we allow the civilian populations to leave the battle zones.” The operation “will happen, and all that remains to be decided is the method and force,” sources in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told The Jerusalem Post in a February 17 report.

Hostages in Limbo

Hamas continues to hold 134 hostages in Gaza, according to the IDF. Many or all of the hostages may be in Rafah. More than 19 weeks after Hamas’s attacks, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not yet performed its most basic functions of proof of life and verification of medical treatment for the hostages.

Israel has thus far been unable to reach a deal with Hamas to release the hostages, citing the terrorist group’s unreasonable demands. There were “demands on the Temple Mount, demands to stop the war and keep Hamas in power [in Gaza], demands [for the IDF] to leave Gaza and release thousands of murderers,” Netanyahu said.

Qatar: Ceasefire in Gaza Should Not Depend on Hostage Deal,” FDD Flash Brief

Turkey, Egypt Presidents Meet to Repair Ties, Call for Gaza Ceasefire,” FDD Flash Brief

ICJ Rejects Gaza Ceasefire Demand, Urges Hostages Released,” FDD Flash Brief


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