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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

US proposal for cease-fire in Gaza gets UN Security Council backing with 14-0 vote

The Biden administration's proposal for a cease-fire in Gaza received the United Nations' endorsement Monday when the Security Council voted 14-0 in favor of a resolution supporting the plan, with only Russia abstaining but not vetoing. Still, acceptance by the warring parties remains elusive.

The U.S. drafted the measure and finalized it Sunday after six days of negotiations among council members. The three-stage proposal would bring about an immediate stop in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, along with the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinians prisoners.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed misgivings about the version of the plan President Joe Biden made public May 31, though the White House has said Israel was involved in crafting it. Netanyahu is under pressure from the far-right flank of his governing coalition to continue the war, and in addition to the truce the proposal calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and, in the second phase, a permanent end to the conflict.

Hamas leaders responded favorably to the resolution, saying in a statement that it "affirmed the permanent cease-fire in Gaza, the complete withdrawal, the prisoners’ exchange, the reconstruction (of Gaza), the return of the displaced to their areas of residence, the rejection of any demographic change or reduction in the area of the Gaza Strip, and the delivery of needed aid to our people in the Strip.''

The Security Council measure says Israel has accepted the truce proposal, presses Hamas to do the same "and urges both parties to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition."

But Netanyahu has voiced not such approval, and senior Israeli U.N. diplomat Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly did not make that commitment either, telling the council Israel's goals are still "to free all the hostages, to destroy Hamas' military and governing capabilities and to ensure that Gaza does not pose a threat to Israel in the future."

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told CNN the administration expects Israel to come on board. "(Biden) has conveyed confidence in the Israeli acceptance of this deal,'' she said. "What we need now is for Hamas to accept the deal. They welcomed the resolution immediately after it was passed. They need to take the next step and accept the deal and start to release hostages.''

A woman and child walk among debris after an Israeli raid that freed four hostages in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, June 9, 2024.

Developments:

∎ Three of four Israeli hostages rescued Saturday were being held at the home of Abdallah Aljamal, a Palestinian journalist and member of Hamas who was killed during the operation, the Israeli military said.

∎ Hamas leaders have given militants holding hostages standing orders to shoot their captives if they think Israeli forces are coming to free them, Israeli officials told the .

∎ The Biden administration is close to finalizing a treaty with Saudi Arabia that would commit the U.S. to help defend the Gulf nation while encouraging diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Israel, the reported, citing U.S. and Saudi officials.

Day after rescue a resignation:,Israeli War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz steps down

Blinken highlights benefits of truce deal to Netanyahu

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pitched the latest cease-fire proposal in both Cairo and Jerusalem as he met first with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and later Monday with Netanyahu.

On the same day to U.N. Security backed the American truce plan, Blinken pointed out to Netanyahu that not only the U.S. but other world leaders backed the proposal, according to a State Department readout of their meeting.

Besides stressing the U.S. commitment to Israel's security, Blinken "reiterated that the proposal on the table would unlock the possibility of calm along Israel’s northern border and further integration with countries in the region,'' the readout said.

While in Israel, Blinken also met with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who has clashed at times with Netanyahu over the best approach to the war. "The Secretary commended Israel’s readiness to conclude a deal and affirmed that the onus is on Hamas to accept,'' State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Hamas accuses Blinken, America of being biased toward Israel

Before leaving for Israel following his meeting with el-Sisi, Blinken appealed for other Middle East countries to lean on Hamas to end the war by taking the proposed truce deal.

"My message to governments throughout the region, to people throughout the region, is if you want a cease-fire, press Hamas to say 'yes,'" Blinken told reporters.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters that Blinken's comments reflected deeply entrenched U.S. support for Israel and were an obstacle to peace. "Blinken's speech during his visit to Egypt is an example of bias to Israel," Abu Zuhri said. "It offers an American cover to the holocaust conducted by the occupation in Gaza."

It was not clear how the hostage raid, which the Gaza Health Ministry says killed 274 Palestinians, might impact the cease-fire effort. The State Department is pressing its position that the deal is a win for both sides.

"The Secretary will discuss how the cease-fire proposal would benefit both Israelis and Palestinians," the department said in a statement. "He will underscore that it would alleviate suffering in Gaza, enable a massive surge in humanitarian assistance, and allow Palestinians to return to their neighborhoods." 

Mother of rescued hostage: 'I am one of the lucky ones'

The mother of one of the four hostages freed by Israeli commandos said her son learned Arabic and some Russian while in captivity and that he was sustained by the bond formed with the other hostages.

Almog Meir Jan was among more than 250 people swept away by militants during the attack Oct. 7 in Israeli border communities that left almost 1,200 people dead. His mother, Orit Meir, said Monday he had forged the bond with fellow hostages Andrey Kozlov, Shlomi Ziv and Noa Argamani. The four were liberated Saturday amid a hail of gunfire and rocket attacks that the Gaza Health Ministry says killed hundreds of Palestinians.

“They were held together for more than half a year,” Meir said at a briefing translated by the  “They did not give up hope. … They kept each other’s spirits up. Almog never gave up his belief that he would make it through the experience of captivity.”

Meir said she was relieved her son, whose father died in Israel hours before his son’s rescue, is physically well but said a full recovery will take time.

“They took away his freedom,” she said. “We are giving him the space and power to make decisions for himself. This is very critical. I am sure he has a way to go, but he is starting from a good place.”

Meir stressed that more than 100 families continue to wait, unable to breathe or sleep without thinking about their loved ones held in Gaza. “I am one of the lucky ones,” she said.

Report: US might negotiate with Hamas for release of 5 Americans

Biden administration officials have discussed potentially negotiating a deal directly with Hamas to secure the release of five Americans being held hostage in Gaza if current cease-fire talks involving Israel fail, NBC reported, citing two current and two former senior U.S. officials the media outlet did not name. The talks would not include Israel and would be conducted through Qatari officials, said the senior U.S. officials, all of whom have been briefed on the discussions.

The U.S. is also hoping to recover the bodies of three other Americans who were killed Oct. 7, NBC reported.

Blinken, asked about the report as he left Cairo for Israel, said, "The best way, the most effective way to get everyone home, including the American hostages, is through this proposal, is through the cease-fire deal that's on the table right now."

Netanyahu remains committed to 'total victory'

Blinken's mission, which will also include stops in Qatar and Jordan, got a boost Monday when the U.N. Security Council voted in favor of a U.S. cease-fire resolution. The Biden administration says the Israeli government has already expressed support for the plan, Netanyahu's office has not confirmed the claim.

Blinken was meeting Monday with Netanyahu, who has been buoyed by a weekend rescue of four hostages that drew rave reviews in Israel and reiterated his stand that the war will not stop until Hamas is eliminated.

"We are committed to total victory," Netanyahu said in a . "We do not want to – and cannot – abandon the arena, not just because of the wonderful boys who have fallen, but because this is the future of the country. We have no choice."

US announces latest round of sanctions targeting Houthi rebels

The Treasury Department announced sanctions against 10 people, companies and ships accused of illegally transporting oil and other commodities for the Yemen-based Houthi rebels and financial facilitator Sa’id al-Jamal. The Houthis have been attacking ships in the Middle East since November, claiming they're a show of support for the Palestinians under siege in Gaza. The latest round of sanctions include shipping companies based in India, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.

Brian Nelson, U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement the government is "committed to disrupting and degrading the Houthis’ ability to engage in attacks against commercial shipping and naval vessels.''

Palestinians 'exhausted and helpless' after assault on refugee camp

Residents in the central Gaza refugee camp of Nuseirat were clearing away debris and searching for the dead after the massive Israel raid that freed four hostages Saturday. Palestinian officials say 274 people were killed, including scores of women and children, in one of the deadliest assaults of the war.

"We are exhausted and helpless, enough is enough," said Jehad, who fled with his family to the nearby town of Deir al-Balah. The family had already been displaced from Gaza City to Nuseirat, to Khan Younis, to Rafah and back to Nuseirat since the war began.

Nuseirat resident Anas Alyan, standing outside the ruins of his home, described how Israel commandos in shorts had been shooting in the streets while F-16s and quadcopters − helicopters with four rotors − fired from the air.

"Anyone moving or walking was killed immediately," he said. "There are still children under this building. We don't know how to pull them out."

Contributing: Reuters

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