Israel-Gaza war live: UN delays ceasefire vote again after US request; Biden says ‘we’re pushing’ for new hostage deal | Israel-Gaza war


UN ceasefire vote delayed until tomorrow

The UN security council has again postponed a vote calling for a new ceasefire in Gaza as diplomats struggle to agree on the language of the draft resolution.

The Guardian has been told that the vote has now been scheduled for Thursday in New York.

The UN draft resolution, drafted by the United Arab Emirates, has been changed several times amid reported policy differences inside the Biden administration.

The vote was initially scheduled for Monday but it has been repeatedly delayed in an effort to avoid a third US veto since the conflict began more than two months ago.

Key events

Summary of the day so far

It’s 9.45pm in Gaza City and Tel Aviv. Here’s a recap of the latest developments:

  • At least 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war began on 7 October, according to the latest figures by the Hamas government’s media office. Among those killed include about 8,000 children and 6,200 women, it said.

Al Jazeera broadcast captures moment strike hits building in Rafah – video

  • The UN security council has postponed a vote calling for a new ceasefire in Gaza until Thursday as diplomats struggle to agree on the language of the draft resolution. The UN resolution, drafted by the United Arab Emirates, has been changed several times amid reported policy differences inside the Biden administration.

  • Joe Biden has said he does not expect an imminent deal between Israel and Hamas over the release of hostages held in Gaza. “We’re pushing it. I don’t … there’s no expectation at this point,” the US president told reporters. The White House earlier on Wednesday said there are “very serious” discussions over a humanitarian pause in Gaza and hostage release between Israel and Hamas.

  • The leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, made his first visit to Egypt for more than a month on Wednesday, a rare personal intervention in diplomacy amid what a source described as intensive talks on a new ceasefire to let aid reach Gaza and get hostages freed. But Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared to rule out a ceasefire as he vowed that Israel will continue its war against Hamas “to the end”.

  • The first aid convoy to travel direct from Jordan to Gaza since the start of the war has delivered 750 metric tonnes of food to the Palestinian territory the UN World Food Programme has said. The 46-truck convoy travelled through the Israeli-Gaza Kerem Shalom border crossing, through which Israel last week approved the temporary delivery of aid into Gaza, opening a new route for supplies after weeks of pressure. Meanwhile, Israel’s foreign minister has said it wants to fast-track the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza through a maritime corridor from Cyprus.

  • Israeli forces have said they shot dead a Palestinian man who tried to carry out a “car ramming attack” in the occupied West Bank. Basel Wajeeh al-Muhtasib “died as a result of being shot by occupation [Israeli army] bullets” as he drove through Bayt Inun junction, north of the city of Hebron, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

  • The political leaders of Hamas have begun talks with the group’s military wing about how to govern Gaza and the West Bank after the war with Israel ends, according to a report. “We want the war to end,” Husam Badran, a member of Hamas’s political bureau in Qatar, told the Wall Street Journal, amid sharpening divisions with Hamas’s military faction.

  • The UK foreign secretary, David Cameron, has held talks with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, in Amman. On his second trip to the Middle East since being appointed to his role last month, Cameron is seeking to make Britain’s argument for a sustainable ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. He will also visit Egypt this week.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has said Israeli forces are besieging its ambulance centre in Jabalia in northern Gaza.

In a social media post, it said Israeli snipers are on the roofs of surrounding buildings, “posing a threat to the safety” of 127 people including paramedics, volunteers and their families.

🚨Urgent: Occupation forces are still besieging the PRCS ambulance center 🚑 in #Jabalia, northern #Gaza. ⚠️Artillery shelling continues in the vicinity of the center, with the sounds of explosions heard. Israeli snipers are positioned on the roofs of surrounding buildings,…

— PRCS (@PalestineRCS) December 20, 2023

In an earlier post, the PRCS said it had received several calls regarding shelling in Jabalia, adding that its teams had been unable to reach individuals besieged there.

The UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories has pleaded with Joe Biden for a ceasefire in Gaza.

In a post on social media, Francesca Albanese addressed the US president directly, asking him to “please, please intervene to stop this senseless carnage of innocent civilians in Gaza”.

Every additional day the international society fails to stop the war is “another nail in the coffin of humanity and the international law base order,” she added.

President Biden, @potus, please, please intervene to stop this senseless carnage of innocent civilians in Gaza.

Every additional day the int’l community doesnt act to stop Israel’s extermination campaign is another nail in the coffin of humanity & the int’l law based order. https://t.co/9FJFfvWu2W

— Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) December 20, 2023

Israel’s military is at “another significant phase” of its offensive in Gaza, the head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) southern command has said.

Maj Gen Yaron Finkelman, at a tour of the frontline in southern Gaza, said:

This offensive will continue and keep moving forward. It will continue with pressure against the enemy above ground and underground.

From the Times of Israel’s Emanuel Fabian:

The head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, says the military is at “another significant phase of the offensive, in new areas.”

“This offensive will continue, and keep moving forward. It will continue with pressure against the enemy above ground, and… pic.twitter.com/RPLAZ4lNxR

— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) December 20, 2023

UN ceasefire vote delayed until tomorrow

The UN security council has again postponed a vote calling for a new ceasefire in Gaza as diplomats struggle to agree on the language of the draft resolution.

The Guardian has been told that the vote has now been scheduled for Thursday in New York.

The UN draft resolution, drafted by the United Arab Emirates, has been changed several times amid reported policy differences inside the Biden administration.

The vote was initially scheduled for Monday but it has been repeatedly delayed in an effort to avoid a third US veto since the conflict began more than two months ago.

Divisions between Hamas’s Doha-based political wing and its officials inside Gaza, including the military faction, have sharpened since the war began in October.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, talks between the Hamas political leadership and Fatah, the dominant faction of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, have created tensions.

Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas’s military wing based in Gaza, does not want Hamas to continue to govern Gaza, but believes the war has not been lost yet and that it is too early to compromise, the report said. Sinwar demanded that the talks be halted when he found out about them, sources told the paper.

Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza.
Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza. Photograph: Adel Hana/AP

The political leaders of Hamas have begun talks with the group’s military wing about how to govern Gaza and the West Bank after the war with Israel ends, according to a report.

The talks, reported by the Wall Street Journal, are the clearest sign that Hamas’ political wing is beginning to plan for what happens after the conflict ends.

“We want the war to end,” Husam Badran, a member of Hamas’s political bureau in Qatar, told the paper, adding:

We don’t fight just because we want to fight. We are not partisans of a zero-sum game.

He said Hamas’s political faction wants to “establish a Palestinian state” in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Hamas’ political leaders have reportedly said they would be willing to join the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). “It will be a national dialogue,” Badran said.

We have always said the PLO should contain any Palestinian faction.

Hamas is not interested in “playing a game” of releasing hostages held in Gaza and pausing hostilities just for Israel to begin a new round of fighting, a senior Hamas official has said.

Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, told Al Jazeera that the militant group’s “priority” amid the ongoing talks is an end to the war. He told the outlet:

Our vision is very clear: We want to stop the aggression.

“What is going on in the ground is a big catastrophe,” added Hamad, noting the “mass destruction and mass killing” caused by the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

He said “some people” were looking for brief pauses in fighting but that that was not in the interest of Hamas or Palestinians, adding:

Israel will take the card of the hostages and after that they will start a new round of mass killing and massacres against our people. We will not play this game.

He added that once the war stopped, Hamas was “ready to negotiate with all” and reach a “big compromise” for the hostages in Gaza.

UN ceasefire vote delay confirmed

We reported earlier that a UN security council vote on a Gaza ceasefire resolution has again been delayed at the request of the US.

A UN diplomat has now told Reuters:

Negotiations are ongoing and need more time. A rushed vote does not seem like it will end well.

The vote on the draft resolution, drafted by the United Arab Emirates, was initially scheduled for Monday. It has been repeatedly delayed in an effort to avoid a third US veto since the conflict began more than two months ago.

Joe Biden says US ‘pushing’ for new hostage deal but does not expect imminent agreement

Joe Biden has said he does not expect an imminent deal between Israel and Hamas over the release of hostages held in Gaza.

The US president, during a trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, told reporters:

We’re pushing it. I don’t … there’s no expectation at this point. But we are pushing it.

From Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs:

On Israel/Hamas hostage deal:

“We’re pushing it. I don’t — there’s no expectation at this point. But we are pushing it,” Biden told reporters after AF1 landed in Wisconsin.

— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) December 20, 2023

Gaza death toll passes 20,000, says Hamas

At least 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war began on 7 October, according to figures by the Hamas government’s media office.

Among those killed include about 8,000 children and 6,200 women, AFP reported that Hamas said.

Julian Borger

Julian Borger

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said it was clear that the conflict in Gaza “needs to move to a lower intensity phase”.

Speaking at a briefing, he told reporters:

We expect to see, and want to see, a shift to more targeted operations with a smaller number of forces, dealing with the leadership, the tunnel network, and a few other critical things. And as that happens, I think you’ll see the harm done to civilians also decrease significantly.

We’ve said all along – and we have these conversations almost every day – that it is vitally important Israel conduct operations with a focus on protecting civilians, minimizing harm to them, maximizing assistance getting to them.”

A Palestinian woman reacts in the aftermath of the strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.
The aftermath of the strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Julian Borger

Julian Borger

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is speaking at the state department in an end-of-year press conference.

Blinken spoke about the negotiations at the UN over a ceasefire and aid resolution. He confirmed the US wanted to keep talking.

We continue to engage extensively and constructively with a number of countries to try to resolve some of the outstanding issues in this security council resolution.

Blinken said the US shared the aim underlying the UAE resolution, to get more aid into Gaza.

We continue to work on this every day, for example making sure that once the assistance gets into Gaza, it can actually move around and be distributed safely and securely with predictable routes.

We’ve been at the forefront of all of these efforts, and we want to make sure that the resolution, in what it calls for and requires, actually advances that effort and doesn’t do anything that could actually hurt the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The White House has said there are “very serious” discussions over a humanitarian pause in Gaza and hostage release between Israel and Hamas.

“These are very serious discussions and negotiations, and we hope that they lead somewhere,” the White House’s national security spokesperson, John Kirby, told reporters onboard Air Force One.

US asking for another delay to UN security council vote

Julian Borger

Julian Borger

The US is asking for another delay in a UN security council vote on a suspension of hostilities in Gaza, amid continuing resistance from Washington and reports that the US would veto the UAE resolution on the table.

“They are trying to avoid [another veto] if at all possible,” one diplomat said.

The vote has already been postponed twice this week to allow for negotiations on its text. The UAE envoy, Lana Nusseibeh, has declared herself open to 11th-hour talks to find compromises in the interests of boosting aid deliveries to people in Gaza, who are facing starvation and disease.

It is not clear the US will get another significant delay. The council presidency is held by Ecuador this month. They may go into closed consultations, but they could still go ahead with a vote today.





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