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UN Security Council is trying for a fifth time to adopt a resolution on the Israel-Hamas war

UN Security Council is trying for a fifth time to adopt a resolution on the Israel-Hamas war

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UN Security Council is trying for a fifth time to adopt a resolution on the Israel-Hamas war

After four failed attempts, the U.N. Security Council is trying for a fifth time to come up with a resolution on the Israel-Hamas war, but it remains to be seen whether serious divisions can be overcome to produce a consensus on wording.

The current draft under negotiation would demand “immediate extended humanitarian pauses” throughout the Gaza Strip to provide civilians with desperately needed aid. It also would demand that “all parties” comply with international humanitarian law that requires protection for civilians, calls for special protections for children, and bans hostage-taking.

But the draft, proposed by council member Malta and obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, makes no mention of a ceasefire. It also doesn’t refer to Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that killed around 1,200 people and took some 240 others hostage. Nor does it cite Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes and ground offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza that the Gaza health ministry says has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children.
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The 15-member council, which has the responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, has been paralyzed since the war began by its internal divisions. This is especially the case between China and Russia, which want an immediate ceasefire, and the United States, Israel’s closest ally that has called for humanitarian pauses but objects to any mention of a ceasefire.

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In the four previous tries, a Brazil-drafted resolution was vetoed by the United States, a U.S.-drafted resolution was vetoed by Russia and China, and two Russian-drafted resolutions failed to get the minimum nine “yes” voted needed for adoption.

Several council diplomats said the opposing sides were getting closer. Two said that a vote on the latest draft could come as early as Wednesday but that delegations were still checking with their capitals. The diplomats insisted on speaking anonymously because the negotiations are supposed to be private.

The resolution under consideration says the humanitarian pauses should be “for a sufficient number of days” to open corridors for unhindered access by U.N., Red Cross and other aid workers to get water, electricity, fuel, food and medical supplies to all those in need. It says the pauses also should allow repair of essential infrastructure and enable urgent rescue and recovery efforts.

After the failure of the fourth Security Council resolution, Arab nations turned to the 193-member General Assembly and succeeded in getting wide approval for a resolution calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza meant to lead to a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

It was the first United Nations response to the war. But unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, though they are a barometer of world opinion.

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The vote was 120-14 with 45 abstentions. Of the five veto-holding Security Council members, Russia, China and France voted in favor, the United States voted against and the United Kingdom abstained.

The General Assembly resolution was adopted Oct. 27 and Israel agreed Nov. 9 to four-hour pauses. But only very limited aid has been delivered to Gaza through the Rafah crossing from Egypt, and a humanitarian catastrophe has been brewing.

Richard Gowan, U.N. director for the International Crisis Group, said U.S. opposition to a ceasefire “is a gift that keeps on giving for Russia diplomatically.” He said that while many diplomats think Russia is demanding a ceasefire “for largely cynical reasons to make the Americans look bad,” Moscow’s position “is closer to the mainstream of council thinking, and the U.S. looks isolated.”

The irony is that the Security Council has called for ceasefires in wars from the Balkans to Syria “with little or no impact,” Gowan said.

“A U.N. ceasefire call would embarrass but not really constrain the Israelis,” he said. “But the U.S. clearly feels that even such a symbolic move is too much of a political risk.”

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

 The African National Congress and its largest rival, the white-led, pro-business Democratic Alliance, agreed on Friday to work together in South Africa’s new government of national unity, a step change after 30 years of ANC majority rule.

Once unthinkable, the deal between two sharply antagonistic parties is the most momentous political shift in South Africa since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the 1994 elections that marked the end of apartheid.

“Today, South Africa is a better country than it was yesterday. For the first time since 1994, we’ve embarked on a peaceful and democratic transfer of power to a new government that will be different from the previous one,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said in a televised address.

“From today, the DA will co-govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration,” he said, adding that multi-party government was the “new normal”.

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The ANC lost its majority for the first time in an election on May 29 and has spent two weeks locked in intensive behind-the-scenes talks with other parties, which came down to the wire on Friday morning as the new parliament was convening.

The DA’s entry into national government is a big moment for a country still processing the legacy of the racist colonial and apartheid regimes. The party has struggled to shake off its image as a defender of rich white people and convince a broad spectrum of South Africans that it reflects their aspirations.

Two smaller parties, the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party and the right-wing Patriotic Alliance, will also take part in the unity government, they said. 

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Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

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Hamas' armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said on Friday that two Israeli hostages held in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah a few days ago.

The group, in a video posted on its Telegram channel, did not release the names of those said to have been killed or provide any evidence.

The Israeli government “does not want your hostages to return, except in coffins,” the al-Qassam Brigades statement said.

Israel rescued four hostages held by Hamas in a hostage-freeing operation in central Gaza’s al-Nuseirat on June 8. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said more than 250 Palestinians were killed in the raid.

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The war in Gaza erupted when Hamas militants stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. 

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

A Canadian navy patrol ship sailed into Havana early on Friday, just hours after the United States announced a fast-attack submarine had docked at its Guantanamo naval base on Cuba, both vessels on the heels of Russian warships that arrived on the island earlier this week.

The confluence of Russian, Canadian and U.S. vessels in Cuba – a Communist-ruled island nation just 160 km (100 miles) from Florida – served up a reminder of old Cold War tensions and of current fraught ties between Russia and Western nations over the Ukraine war.

However, both the U.S. and Cuba have said the Russian warships pose no threat to the region. Russia has also characterized the arrival of its warships in allied Cuba as routine.

The Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, half submerged with its crew on deck, sailed into Havana harbor on Wednesday after conducting “high-precision missile weapons” training in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Canada`s Margaret Brooke patrol vessel began maneuvers early on Friday to enter Havana harbor, part of what the Canadian Joint Operations Command called “a port visit…in recognition of the long-standing bilateral relationship between Canada and Cuba.”

A Canadian diplomat characterized the Margaret Brooke`s arrival as “routine and part of long-standing cooperation between our two countries”, adding it was “unrelated to the presence of the Russian ships.”

Russia and Cuba were close allies under the former Soviet Union and tensions with Washington over Communism in its “backyard” peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Moscow, which has maintained ties with Havana, has questioned the apparent nervousness of the West over the warships this week. 

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