New York [US], March 27: The United States is "kind of perplexed" by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reaction to the US decision not to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire on Monday.
Netanyahu cancelled a scheduled Israeli delegation's trip to Washington over the decision. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller called the move "a bit surprising and unfortunate." But Miller said that the US still expects to present Israeli officials with alternatives to a planned military attack against the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Almost six months into the Gaza war, the UN Security Council on Monday passed a resolution for the first time calling for an "immediate ceasefire" for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan began on March 10 and will end around April 9.
The most powerful body of the United Nations expressed "deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip." The US, which holds veto power, abstained from the vote on Monday, thereby enabling the resolution to be adopted. The 14 other members of the committee voted in favour.
The resolution, which is binding under international law, further increases international pressure on the parties to the conflict, Israel and Hamas. However, it is unclear to what extent the resolution will have any influence on decisions made by the Netanyahu government or Hamas regarding the course of the war.
Israel's minister for strategic affairs, Ron Dermer, and national security advisor, Zachi Hanegbi, were supposed to fly to the US on Monday to meet with high-ranking US government officials. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday in Washington.
During the meeting, Blinken reiterated Washington's rejection of Israel's planned military offensive in Rafah, Miller said.
"The Secretary underscored that alternatives exist to a major ground invasion that would both better ensure Israel's security and protect Palestinian civilians," Miller said in a statement following the meeting.
"Secretary Blinken also discussed the need to immediately surge and sustain additional humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza," he added.
Source: Qatar Tribune