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Tuesday, 26 March 2024 13:37

South Africa welcomes adoption of UN Security Council resolution on Gaza.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

South Africa has welcomed the adoption by the UN Security Council of a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip after the US withheld its veto to enable Resolution 2728 (2024) to pass.

"South Africa is pleased that the Security Council has, at long last, demanded an immediate and lasting ceasefire for the month of Ramadan and the resolution must also propose that this ceasefire should lead to a lasting sustainable ceasefire," said International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor.

"It is now the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to ensure that there is compliance with the resolution, which is binding on the parties," said the Minister.

Pandor said South Africa remains concerned that in the over five months since the conflict began, thousands have lost their lives, including over 13 000 children.

Resolution 2728 also notes an "urgent need to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to and reinforce the protection of civilians in the entire Gaza Strip". 

"It is, therefore, vital that the parties comply with the Security Council," the Minister added. 

The Council also demanded the "lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale, in line with international humanitarian law, as well as Resolution 2712 (2023) and 2720 (2023)".

Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, tweeted: "The Security Council just approved a long-awaited resolution on Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable."

Guterres also called for the fight in Gaza to end now.

"The hostages must be released now. And we must not lose sight of the big picture. A lasting end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only come through a two-State solution."

The Security Council's decision to call for a ceasefire ended a five-month stalemate in which the US had vetoed three previous attempts at ceasefire resolutions, insisting on Israel’s right to pursue the fight against Hamas, which it has vowed to destroy.

More than 32,000 Gazans have been killed in Israel's assault, which was launched following Hamas' attack on Israel on 7 October that killed almost 1,200 people and led to the taking of around 250 hostages.

Monday's resolution passed with 14 votes in favour, none against and one abstention, from the US. The chamber erupted in applause when the vote was concluded.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office slammed the US abstention as a retreat from the consistent US position since the start of the war and said it would harm Israel’s war effort as well as its attempts to free the remaining hostages.

But the US State Department said its abstention "reaffirms the US position that a ceasefire of any duration comes as part of an agreement to release hostages in Gaza".

It added that the resolution recognised "the painstaking, non-stop negotiations" being conducted by Egypt, Israel, Qatar and the US to free the hostages in the context of a ceasefire. 

The US said it did not vote for the resolution because it failed to condemn Hamas for its 7 October attack. It reiterated the need to accelerate and sustain the provision of humanitarian assistance for Gaza through all available routes, by land, sea and air.