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UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council is struggling to speak with one voice ahead of a vote expected Tuesday on a new resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

A vote may come as soon as Tuesday morning if negotiations succeed in breaking an impasse 10 days after a US veto.

On December 8, despite unprecedented pressure from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the United States blocked the adoption of a resolution calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip, where Israel continues its deadly strikes in retaliation for Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack.

Last week, the General Assembly adopted the same nonbinding resolution by 153 votes to 10, with 23 abstentions, out of 193 member states.

On the strength of this overwhelming support, Arab countries have announced a new attempt at the Security Council, with an uncertain outcome.

A draft text prepared by the United Arab Emirates, obtained by AFP on Sunday, called for “an urgent and lasting cessation of hostilities to allow unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.”

But according to diplomatic sources, a new modified text is now on the table, in an attempt to get closer to a compromise.

The postponement of the vote until Tuesday “means that there are negotiations over the text – most probably to avoid another or several vetoes,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnes Callamard posted on X.

“Every hour, every day that passes – civilians in Gaza are dying.”

The Security Council is also discussing the terms of a monitoring system for humanitarian aid entering Gaza.

In a letter sent on Monday to the president of the Security Council, seen by AFP, Antonio Guterres mentions three options for implementing the November 15 resolution calling for humanitarian “pauses” of a few days to allow aid into the Palestinian territory.

Israel faces Gaza ceasefire calls, but US vows more arms

Noting that “the conditions for the effective delivery of humanitarian aid no longer exist,” the secretary general’s first option is to reinforce the presence of UN humanitarian personnel on the ground to enable a “more robust United Nations presence on the ground.”

Secondly, he suggests a mission of UN or third-party civilian observers.

And finally, to monitor the observance of “humanitarian pauses/cease-fires, United Nations unarmed military observers could be deployed,” he wrote, noting that all three options would require “clear mandates” from the Security Council.

‘More suffering’

Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, the Security Council has been under fire, having only managed to adopt a text calling for “humanitarian pauses” in mid-November.

Five other draft resolutions were rejected, two of them due to US vetoes.

President Joe Biden has since exhibited growing impatience with Israel, warning that its ally risks losing the support of the international community for its “indiscriminate” bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The Biden administration declined to say how it viewed the latest text.

“We are always trying to get to a place where there’s language that we agree with, that other Security Council members agree with,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

“But right now we’re in the middle of the negotiation process. I wouldn’t want to speculate.”

Security Council resolutions are binding, but regularly ignored by the countries concerned.

‘A ceasefire now’

After the attack on October 7, which Israeli authorities say left around 1,140 people dead, most of them civilians, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas, pounding the Palestinian territory, laying siege to it and conducting a vast ground operation since October 27.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israel’s military response has killed more than 19,400 people, mostly women and children.

“In the face of such atrocities, there is only one moral position, one defensible position: ceasefire now,” pleaded Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the UN, from the rostrum of the General Assembly on Friday.

“Calling for a ceasefire now, while (the hostages) are still being held, is the most immoral thing to do,” replied his Israeli counterpart, Gilad Erdan.

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