Could this UN ceasefire resolution end the Hamas-Israel war? Experts weigh in

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun6,2024
The United Nations Security Council has adopted a plan aimed at reaching a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and the release of hostages.
On Monday, a US-drafted resolution offering a pathway to a comprehensive .
Russia abstained from the vote, stating it required further clarity over Israel’s support for the resolution, despite the US claiming its key Middle Eastern ally had led the initiative. Israel has so far not issued any formal approval of the deal.

The resolution outlines a plan in three stages, starting with a six-week “full and complete ceasefire” and the release of hostages taken by Hamas during its 7 October attack on Israel. In exchange, Israel would release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

The subsequent two stages would include “a permanent end to hostilities” and a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza. It also rejects any territorial changes within the enclave.
US President Joe Biden said the resolution, which has the support of Hamas, would provide a “durable end to the war”.
However, it has been met with some scepticism, after previous resolutions, including the passing of a ceasefire in March, failed to stop the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
Israel has said it will agree only to temporary pauses until Hamas is defeated, while Hamas has countered it will not accept a deal that does not guarantee the war will end.

All this raises questions: how effective are UN Security Council resolutions? And what can we expect next?

Is a UN Security Council resolution legally binding?

Under the founding UN Charter, “members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council”.
As a member, Israel is legally bound to the outcome of the resolution, but in practice, ceasefires can look a bit different.
“It all depends on the parties to the conflict and their willingness to uphold the law,” said Juliette McIntyre, a law lecturer at the University of South Australia.

“There are laws that regulate the conduct of war, and sometimes parties do try to uphold those, and other times they just throw them out the window.”

A timeline of United Nations resolutions about the Hamas-Israel war, including the vote tally and who lead the calls.

As an independent organisation, Hamas is not technically bound by the UN convention.

However, it has welcomed the Security Council resolution, saying in a statement that it was ready to cooperate with mediators to implement the principles “that are consistent with the demands of our people and resistance”.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by countries including Australia, Canada, the UK and the US while New Zealand and Paraguay list only its military wing as a terrorist group.

How are ceasefires enforced?

McIntyre said “the UN Security Council is the only body in the international legal structure that has the power to order lawful military action”.
It can also impose sanctions to maintain or restore international peace and security.
However, further action would require a resolution that would need to be passed by the Security Council, without a veto from member states including the US.

“So, short of military action of that sort, there’s no talking about forcing Israel to comply,” she said.

Ultimately, if there is no ceasefire in Gaza, it’s unlikely the Security Council will take any further action.

What will happen next?

Marika Sosnowski, a research fellow at University of Melbourne Law School, said a ceasefire resolution was only significant “if both parties, being Israel and Hamas, are willing to actually implement the terms of this agreement”.
At this point, she said she was unsure that Israel would accept the deal, adding that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent visit to Tel Aviv was at odds with the narrative that the resolution was an Israeli initiative.
“It seems [the visit aimed] to try and get [Israel] to agree to implement the terms of this agreement, which seems counterintuitive to me if Israel has apparently already accepted the terms of this resolution,” Sosnowski told SBS News.

She was encouraged by two things; the level of detail in the resolution and explicit links to negotiations undertaken by Qatar, with the support of Egypt and the US.

“Previous resolutions have been quite broad and vague in nature … the specific nature of this resolution might be beneficial in holding parties accountable,” she said.
“The most successful ceasefire so far in this current conflict was the truce that Qatar negotiated in November, which had really specific terms.”
Sosnowski said she hoped the ongoing dialogue between the parties, led by Qatar, would add political pressure, adding that Israel would be “more willing” to adhere to terms if it had “invested time and effort into negotiating them”.
However, she remained sceptical, pointing to things like buffer zones by Israel between itself and Gaza, as grey areas that could mean terms like no territorial change are not adhered to.

“Until I see some practical steps from Israel that it’s going to implement a deal, which I haven’t seen yet in this resolution, I remain sceptical.”

Australia welcomes resolution

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia supported the outcome of the Security Council vote.

“That no country voted against the resolution underlines the international community’s view that this war must end,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Australia will continue to work with countries that support peace to press for agreement to this proposal,” she said.
Senator Wong said any delay “will only see more lives lost”.
“Civilians must be protected, aid must flow at scale and hostages must be released,” she said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has reiterated calls for peaceful protests in Australia connected to the Middle East conflict after the electorate offices of MPs were targeted.

“In a democracy, peaceful protest has an important role for people to be able to demonstrate their views,” Albanese told reporters in Canberra.
“There is a great deal of concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. It’s one that the Australian government shares.”
Greens leader Adam Bandt said he welcomed the UN resolution for a ceasefire, while also stressing the need for peaceful protests.
“What we’ve said, very clearly, is that what we are seeing is the overwhelming majority of people coming to the street and protesting peacefully.
“That has a long tradition in Australian politics — it’s what helped stop wars in the past.”

– with additional reporting from Reuters and the Australian Associated Press.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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