Can UNSC Resolution 2720 bring hope to the people of Gaza?

From XinHua
From XinHua

On December 22, New York local time, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2720 at an emergency meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, calling for speeding up the delivery of humanitarian supplies to civilians in Gaza. The United States and Russia abstained from the vote.

The resolution requires all parties to the conflict to facilitate the direct delivery of large-scale humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians throughout the Gaza Strip, and requests the UN secretary-general to establish a coordinator in the Gaza Strip and relevant United Nations working mechanisms. The resolution also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and ensures humanitarian access to address their medical needs, while reaffirming the concept of a two-state solution and emphasizing the need to unify the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.

Member states of the Security Council had mixed reactions to this resolution. Because Russia's amendment to this draft resolution regarding an immediate ceasefire was vetoed by the United States, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia said, This is a tragic moment for the Council.

The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield appreciated the Security Council's clear stance that all hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally and that humanitarian workers must be allowed to visit each hostage, including for medical visits. But she said the U.S. was appalled that it was again unable to condemn the horrific terrorist attacks committed by Hamas on October 7.

Dai Bing, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, welcomed the resolution. He urged Israel to immediately change course, stop indiscriminate military attacks, and stop collective punishment of the population of Gaza. He said that as the occupying power, Israel has the obligation to protect the humanitarian needs of the Gaza people and the safety of humanitarian workers there.

Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative, Brett Jonathan Miller said the hostage issue must be placed at the top of the Security Council's agenda. He stressed that Israel's security inspections of aid to Gaza will not change. Riyad Mansour, Palestine's ambassador to the United Nations, said This resolution is a step in the right direction. It must be implemented and accompanied by massive pressure for an immediate ceasefire.

Resolution 2720 is the second resolution adopted by the UNSC since the Israel-Palestine conflict broke out on October 7. Previously, it has failed to pass several relevant draft resolutions.

The different reactions of the above-mentioned countries to Resolution 2720, as well as the vetoes of the previous draft resolutions, fully demonstrate the obvious differences in the UNSC on the Israel-Palestine conflict. From this point of view, is Resolution 2720 worth looking forward to?

First of all, it is certain that the Gaza Strip will receive more humanitarian aid. Israel has faced growing international pressure, including from the United States, as it continues its ground operations in Gaza and a humanitarian crisis spreads there. Israel will allow more humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza, subject to strict inspections and distribution monitoring.
Secondly, Israel has long-standing dissatisfaction with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees and has limited trust in the United Nations. What makes Israel particularly angry is that the United Nations has not yet condemned the terrorist attack launched by Hamas against Israeli civilians on October 7. So, I don't think that Israel would like to cooperate with the future work of the United Nations in the Gaza Strip.

Thirdly, it is currently difficult for Hamas to easily release all hostages. Hamas has publicly declared that it will exchange all hostages for all Palestinian detainees, which is something that Israel cannot agree to. If the hostages cannot be released, the matters in Resolution 2720 that require active cooperation from Israel are likely not to proceed smoothly.

Finally, the Gaza arrangements in Resolution 2720, which stress the importance of unifying Gaza with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority, seem to have almost no meaning in resolving the current conflict. From Israel's perspective, discussions about the future of Gaza need to be based on the complete defeat of Hamas and the elimination of Gaza's military offensive capabilities against Israel. This is Israel's current basic position towards Hamas and Gaza.

Therefore, despite the continuous international calls for an immediate halt to the ongoing conflict, Israel remains unmoved. Although UNSC Resolution 2720 does have some room for implementation, it also faces obvious difficulties and its help in resolving the current Gaza crisis is quite limited. Obviously, the resolution of the Gaza crisis requires more efforts from all parties, especially those directly involved.