Photo Credit: UN Photo / Eskinder Debebe
Meeting of the UN Security Council on Feb. 11, 2020

The high-ranking Israeli delegation that was set to depart for Washington at the request of the Biden Administration for talks on IDF plans to operate in Rafah has been ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stand down.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) slammed a vote in the United Nations Security Council demands an “immediate ceasefire” during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan now in progress, and the unconditional release of all the hostages along with “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into Gaza. It did not condemn Hamas.


As they say, however, the devil is in the details. Calling for a ceasefire and unconditional release of the hostages does not, however, condition the ceasefire upon the release of all — or any — of the hostages. In other words, Hamas could easily implement the ceasefire without freeing hostages and still be within the parameters of the resolution as it currently stands.

“Certain key edits were ignored, including our requests to add a condemnation of Hamas, and we did not agree with everything in the resolution,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the UN, said following the vote.

“For that reason we were unfortunately not able to vote yes. However, as I’ve said before, we fully support some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution.”

The PMO said in its statement that the US is harming the war effort and attempts to free hostages by its decision to allow the resolution to pass.

“The US has backed down from its consistent stance in the Security Council since the beginning of the war,” the statement said.

“This backing down hurts the war effort and the effort to release the hostages because it gives Hamas hope that international pressure will allow them to get a ceasefire without releasing our hostages.”

As a result of the US abstention, the resolution — which is not legally binding — passed with 14 votes in favor.

“If the US does not veto today’s resolution at the United Nations calling for a ceasefire that is not conditional on the release of hostages, the departure of the Israeli delegation to Washington will be cancelled,” Netanyahu warned in a statement shortly before the UN vote was taken.

The Israeli delegation, which included Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, was scheduled to leave for Washington DC late Monday for talks on Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah, in response to a request last week by President Joe Biden during a phone conversation with Israel’s prime minister.

The resolution also did not condemn the barbaric Hamas terrorist organization that launched the war, carried out more than a thousand atrocities, slaughtered 1,200 people on October 7 and kidnapped 253 others into Gaza.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan attacked the resolution as well. “Your demand for a ceasefire without making it conditional on the release of our hostages harms the efforts to release them and gives Hamas hope of achieving a ceasefire without releasing them. All council members should have opposed this proposal,” Erdan said.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters moments after the Monday morning vote the US’s abstention of the vote does not represent a shift in US policy.

“We have been clear and we’ve been consistent in our support for a ceasefire as part of a hostage deal,” Kirby said. “That’s how the hostage deal is structured.

“We wanted to get to a place where we could support that resolution, but because the final text does not have key language that we think is essential like a condemnation of Hamas, we could not support it.”

Kirby said the White House was “disappointed” at Netanyahu’s decision to cancel the delegation.

“We’re very disappointed that they won’t be coming to Washington DC to allow us to have a fulsome conversation on the viable alternatives to going in on the ground in Rafah,” Kirby told reporters.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has arrived for talks with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who invited his Israeli counterpart to Washington.

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival, Gallant said, “We have no moral right to stop the war while there are still hostages held in Gaza. The lack of a decisive victory in Gaza may bring us closer to a war in the north.”

The defense minister is also expected to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as well.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.