UNSC Resolution 2720: Been here, done that
Yesterday, Jewish Press published the full text of UNSC Resolution 2720 in which the Council called for:
… increased humanitarian aid, humanitarian “pauses”, unconditional release of all hostages being held by Hamas, and Red Cross access to those hostages to determine their medical status and to provide them with medical care.
The United States and Russia both abstained from the vote and the remaining 13 members of the Council voted in favour. The USA had been holding back, insisting on changing the wording from a call for a total ceasefire to a call for ‘pauses.’ Had ‘ceasefire’ remained in the text, they would have vetoed the resolution.
What happens when UN Security Council resolutions are ignored? That depends, really—on whether you are any of 192 other members of the United Nations, or are Israel.
He gives the example of Lebanon, the subject of a number of resolutions that they have ignored. Pertinent to the current war situation was the adoption of Resolution 1701, passed in 2006 in order to end the war between Israel and the Hizbollah. Lebanon did nothing to ensure that the terms of the resolution would be respected and today, 1701 has become a focus of discussion as the situation in southern Lebanon threatens to turn into open war against Israel, mirroring what happened on Oct 7th in the Gaza Envelope. Has the UN spoken out about that? Has Lebanon been censured, even in this late day, for violating the terms of Resolution 1701?
No. Not that I have heard. That was true in 2017, when Abrams wrote his article and it remains true today, even though Israel says it will not attack Hizbollah if it is moved north of the Litani River, in other words, if Lebanon complies with the resolution. Are there condemnations in the UN against Lebanon? Is the international press begging Lebanon to comply with 1701? Are there demonstrations in front of Lebanese embassies around the world insisting that 1701 be upheld?
The only condemnations I have heard are against Israel. The only demonstrations I have seen are cries for Israel’s destruction.
But let us return to the UNSC resolution at hand:
It is possible to parse Resolution 2720 and find multiple problems with it, but to me, it is sufficient to point out just one small thing.
Most importantly for Israel, Resolution 2720 calls for the immediate release of all the hostages held by Hamas and having them seen by the Red Cross. However, on 15 November 2023 a resolution calling for exactly that was passed. Paragraph 3 of Resolution 2712 reads:
Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children, as well as ensuring immediate humanitarian access;
It is now over a month since that resolution was passed and our hostages — “especially children” — are still being held and have not been visited by the Red Cross.
Resolution 2712 was approved by 12 members of the UNSC and abstentions were submitted by the USA, Russia, and the UK. In other words, there were 12 members of the SC who raised their voices saying they wanted the hostages freed. Are any of these countries now condemning Hamas for violating that resolution?
China and France are permanent members of the SC and they approved this resolution. Non-permanent members Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland, and the UAE were given the opportunity to have an impact on world affairs for two years. Are they using this opportunity to uphold the international law that prohibits the taking of hostages during war? I have seen no evidence of that.
Therefore, there is no reason to expect Hamas to comply with 2720.
At the same time, the world will come down hard on Israel if there is no “humanitarian pause” in the fighting — even if that pause is for the purposes of releasing the hostages and admitting humanitarian aid, yet no hostages will actually be released while aid will continue to flow into Gaza as it is at this very moment.
Feature Image Credit: White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons