How Arab states helped bring about Gaza ceasefire resolution

Security Council vote came days after Blinken visited Cairo for talks with regional officials

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt, along with UAE Minister of State for International Co-operation Reem Al Hashimy, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Cairo on March 21. Reuters
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In the months leading up to the UN Security Council's vote on the Gaza ceasefire resolution, key Arab countries consistently advocated for an end to the fighting in the Palestinian enclave.

Qatar hosted indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas, the UAE's mission in New York was vocal in its calls for a ceasefire, while Egypt and Jordan frequently communicated with the administration of US President Joe Biden urging to back the resolution.

This co-ordination reflects a multifaceted approach by Arab states, each using their unique diplomatic channels and relationships to bring about a truce in the Gaza Strip, where more than 32,400 Palestinians have been killed since the war broke out on October 7.

The Security Council's vote on took place on Monday, just days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Cairo for talks with officials from the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Officials from Egypt and Jordan have told senior members of the Biden administration, including National Security Council Co-ordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “had to be restrained”, sources told The National.

The White House was warned that Mr Netanyahu had become too unpredictable since the war began, and his actions could jeopardise stability in Jordan and Egypt.

“The Americans got the message that once Rafah is invaded there is no longer a way to control the course of the war,” one source said.

Israel has repeatedly voiced its intention to launch an incursion into Rafah, Gaza's southernmost city, where more than a million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge. Egypt is particularly concerned that such an operation could result in people attempting to cross the border into the Sinai peninsula, which would exacerbate an already tense and complex situation.

In Jordan, the threat of a direct refugee crisis is perceived as less severe, as long as the neighbouring occupied West Bank remains stable. However, with much of Jordan's population being of Palestinian origin, there is widespread anger towards Israel.

“Biden had to try to trim the claws of Israel, for his own considerations and for the sake of America's allies,” one source said.

During a visit to Amman on Monday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said any ground operation in Rafah “would be a catastrophic humanitarian disaster”.

The Security Council's ceasefire resolution passed with 14 votes in favour and one abstention from the US. It was the first time the council has passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war.

Last month, the council adopted a resolution aiming to increase the delivery of aid to Gaza and setting the conditions for a reduction in violence. After four postponements, the resolution, which was drawn up by the UAE, received 13 votes in favour and two abstentions from the US and Russia.

“It is certain that Qatar, the Gulf states and the countries participating in the negotiations to stop the war in Gaza made diplomatic efforts and pressed for this decision,” a Qatari source said, referring to the ceasefire resolution.

“The UN Security Council praised the diplomatic efforts undertaken by the State of Qatar, along with the United States of America and the Arab Republic of Egypt, to achieve a cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, release detainees, and expand the scope of relief aid.”

Updated: March 26, 2024, 6:04 PM