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UN Security Council votes to increase Gaza aid, US and Russia abstain

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The United Nations Security Council voted Friday to approve a United Arab Emirates-sponsored resolution demanding a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas war.

A vote on the resolution was previously scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, but was delayed to try to avoid another veto by the United States. 

The resolution passed Friday, in which 13 nations voted in favor with the U.S. and Russia abstaining, “calls for urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access and to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.”

It “demands that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians, calls for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access and to enable urgent rescue and recovery efforts, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring immediate humanitarian access,” the resolution adds.

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Representatives of member countries vote during the Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters on Friday, Dec. 22, in New York City. (AP/Yuki Iwamura)

The resolution also expresses “grave concerns as to the impact the resumption of hostilities has had on civilians.”

“Today, this council made clear that all hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally and that humanitarian groups must be able to access hostages, including for medical visits,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said following the vote.

“Today, this council made clear that civilian and humanitarian facilities, including hospitals, medical facilities, schools, places of worship and U.N. facilities, as well as humanitarian personnel and medical personnel, must be protected,” she added. “This applies to all parties to this conflict, to Israel, but also to Hamas, a terror group that instigated this conflict and that wages war from inside homes and hospitals and U.N. sites and uses innocent civilians as human shields, an act of cowardice and cruelty.”

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Gaza City airstrike damage

Destruction from Israeli airstrikes is seen in Gaza City on Oct. 11. (AP/Adel Hana)

Security Council resolutions are legally binding, but parties in practice may ignore the will of the council. 

The U.S. previously vetoed a Security Council cease-fire resolution that was widely supported by all council members and dozens of other member nations. Robert Wood, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the U.N., maintained the U.S. wanted to see peace between Israelis and Palestinians but was critical of how the resolution would go about it.

“It would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on Oct. 7. Colleagues, a senior Hamas official recently stated the group intends to repeat the vile acts of Oct. 7, quote, again and again and again, unquote. And yet this resolution essentially says Israel should just tolerate this, that it should allow this terror to go unchecked,” Wood said earlier this month. 

Israeli soldier and vehicles

An Israeli soldier stands next to military vehicles near the Gaza Strip border on Monday, Dec. 18. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

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“Although the United States strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable cease-fire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” he added. 

Fox News’ Greg Norman, Elizabeth Elkind and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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