UN vote on Gaza aid further delayed as US works ‘intensely’

A United Nations Security Council vote on a bid to boost aid to the Gaza Strip and ask the U.N. to monitor humanitarian aid deliveries in the Palestinian enclave has again been delayed at the request of the U.S., diplomats said on Wednesday.

“Negotiations are ongoing and need more time. A rushed vote does not seem like it will end well,” a U.N. diplomat familiar with negotiations told Reuters, referring to a possible U.S. veto of the draft resolution.

It was not immediately clear when a council vote might be rescheduled.

The text – drafted by the United Arab Emirates – essentially aims to dilute Israel’s control over all humanitarian aid deliveries to 2.3 million people in Gaza. Washington traditionally shields its ally Israel from U.N. action.

“We continue to engage extensively and constructively with a number of countries to try to resolve some of the outstanding issues in this Security Council resolution,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Wednesday.

Blinken said the U.S. had been working “intensely” on the issue and that he had been “on the phones about this for the last the last couple of days.” “We want to make sure that the resolution … doesn’t do anything that could actually hurt the delivery of humanitarian assistance, make it more complicated. That’s what we’re focused on,” Blinken said. “I hope we can get to a good place.” After more than a week of negotiations and several days of vote delays, diplomats said the U.S. is unhappy that the draft asks U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish a U.N. mechanism in Gaza “to exclusively monitor all humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza provided through land, sea and air routes of those States that are not parties to the conflict.”

Washington is also wary of a reference to a cessation of hostilities and a demand for Israel and Hamas to allow and facilitate “the use of all land, sea and air routes to and throughout the entire Gaza” for humanitarian aid deliveries, said diplomats.

Currently Israel monitors the limited humanitarian aid and fuel deliveries to Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Egypt and the Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing.

On Wednesday, the first aid convoy entered Gaza directly from Jordan with 750 metric tonnes of food. The World Food Programme says half of Gaza’s population is starving and only 10% of the food required has entered Gaza since Oct. 7.

The U.S. has already twice vetoed Security Council action since an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that Israel says killed 1,200 people and saw 240 people taken hostage.

Israel has retaliated by bombarding Gaza from the air, imposing a siege and launching a ground offensive. Nearly 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Most people have been driven from their homes and U.N. officials and aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The U.S. and Israel oppose a ceasefire, believing it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas.

Earlier this month the 193-member U.N. General Assembly demanded a humanitarian ceasefire, with 153 states voting in favor of the move that the U.s. had vetoed in the Security Council days earlier.

A seven-day pause ended on Dec. 1. During that time, Hamas released some hostages, some Palestinians were freed from Israeli jails and there was an increase in aid to Gaza.

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