China calls for 'comprehensive, effective implementation' of UNSC resolutions for Gaza cease-fire
Published: Jun 11, 2024 08:59 PM
Protesters gather at Union Square in New York City to demonstrate against Israel's ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and express solidarity with Palestinians on June 10, 202. Demonstrators chanted Gaza! Gaza! as they flooded the subway station near Union Square. Photo: VCG

Protesters gather at Union Square in New York City to demonstrate against Israel's ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and express solidarity with Palestinians on June 10, 2024. Demonstrators chanted "Gaza! Gaza!" as they flooded the subway station near Union Square. Photo: VCG

The UN Security Council (UNSC) on Monday local time adopted a resolution aimed at reaching a comprehensive cease-fire deal drafted by the US in three phases to end the war in Gaza, with China, which voted in favor, calling for all UNSC resolutions to be implemented in a comprehensive and effective manner while expressing concern that the US-drafted text is still ambiguous in a number of aspects.

Chinese analysts said on Tuesday that although the US claimed that Israel has accepted the deal and Palestinian group Hamas also said it accepts the deal and is ready to negotiate on details, to what extent the resolution can be implemented is still in question, as the conflicting parties lack mutual trust. If there are further incidents or disagreements during the three phases of the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the conflict will continue, so the US-drafted deal is fragile. China will play a role for peace and will make full efforts to mediate the crisis.  

Adopted by a large majority with 14 votes in favor and Russia abstaining, Resolution 2735 also urges both parties to the conflict to fully implement the terms of the proposal "without delay and without condition," the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The US-drafted text calls for Hamas to accept a cease-fire proposal announced on  May 31 by US President Joe Biden that has "already been accepted by Israel." Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters on Tuesday that Hamas accepts the deal, stressing that it was up to Washington to ensure that Israel abides by it.

International concerns

"The draft is still ambiguous in quite a number of aspects. We still have valid concerns about whether the parties concerned will accept the cease-fire proposal and whether the transitions among the three phases can be carried out smoothly," Chinese Ambassador to the UN Fu Cong said in his explanation of China's vote for the resolution at the UNSC meeting on Monday, according to the website of China's permanent mission to the UN. 

"The immediate realization of a permanent cease-fire has been the strong appeal of China and other council members for months. And this has been the most desperate aspiration of Gaza civilians in deep sufferings. From the perspective of the urgent need to stop more killing and to alleviate humanitarian catastrophe, China voted in favor of the draft resolution," Fu remarked.

"All council resolutions are legally binding. The resolution just adopted is equally binding as Council Resolutions 2712, 2720 and 2728. All of them should be implemented in a comprehensive and effective manner. We hope that the sponsor will work sincerely in an impartial and responsible manner to push for the immediate realization of a permanent cease-fire," Fu said at the UNSC meeting. "China will work with all parties to push for an early cease-fire in Gaza and bring the Palestinian-Israeli issue back to the right track of the two-State solution as early as possible." 

Although the resolution has been adopted, some countries are still concerned. Russian Ambassador and Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said, "We have a whole of host of questions about the American draft resolution, whereby the Council welcomes some deal - the ultimate outlines of which are not known to anyone perhaps except the mediators." 

Although the resolution calls on Hamas to accept the "so-called deal" there is no clarity on the official agreement of Israel "as it is written in the resolution." Noting the public statements of Israeli leaders indicating that the war would continue until Hamas is completely defeated, the Russian representative asked "what specifically has Israel agreed to?"

Li Xinggang, a research fellow at the Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean Rim at Zhejiang International Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "the adoption of the resolution will have a binding effect and impact on both parties to the conflict in the sense of international law, and it plays a constructive role and has positive significance in genuinely realizing the cooling down of the situation in Gaza."

However, experts consider that the US-drafted deal remain fragile. "The phase-one cease-fire is likely to take place, but it remains to be seen whether this means that a sustainable cease-fire can be achieved in this round of the Gaza conflict," Li remarked.

Three phases

According to the resolution, phase one includes an "immediate, full, and complete cease-fire with the release of hostages including women, the elderly and the wounded, the return of the remains of some hostages who have been killed, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners."

It calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from "populated areas" of Gaza, the return of Palestinians to their homes and neighborhoods throughout the enclave, including in the north, as well as the safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance at scale.

Phase two would see a permanent end to hostilities "in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza."

In phase three, "a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza" would begin and the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza would be returned to Israel. The UNSC also underlined the proposal's provision that if negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the cease-fire will continue as long as negotiations continue.

The resolution says that Israel has "accepted" the deal and "calls upon" Hamas to do the same. It also notes that the UNSC rejects any attempt at demographic or territorial change in the Gaza Strip, including any actions that reduce the territory of the enclave.

The text also reiterates the council's "unwavering commitment" to the vision of the two-State solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions.

"In this regard it stresses the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority," reads the resolution.

Wang Jin, an associate professor at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at Northwest University in Xi'an, told the Global Times that both Israel and Hamas will not say no to the call for peace as this is the call by the international community, so they will say they agree in principle, but working out details during the implementation will be complicated.

It will not be a surprise that if there is a failure to implement the deal and hostilities resume that both sides will fall into recriminations, experts said. During this process, to what extent the UNSC can make sure the resolution is binding will determine the effectiveness of the cease-fire, they noted.  

Sun Langchen contributed to the story