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U.S. Pushes for U.N. Vote on Gaza Cease-Fire as Blinken Meets with Middle East Leaders

The United States is pushing for a vote on its draft U.N. Security Council resolution, urging Hamas to accept a proposed cease-fire deal. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet Monday with leaders in Egypt and Israel to further efforts toward halting the ongoing conflict.

In Cairo, Blinken will engage in discussions with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, before heading to Israel to confer with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. His diplomatic mission will also include visits to Qatar and Jordan, where he will participate in a conference focused on humanitarian aid for Gaza.

U.S. officials have indicated that Israel is prepared to accept the cease-fire proposal. This plan involves an initial cessation of hostilities, the release of hostages from Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, an increase in humanitarian aid for Palestinians, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated areas of Gaza, and the return of Palestinian civilians to their homes.

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Hamas has not yet responded to the plan, which U.S. President Joe Biden publicly outlined more than a week ago.

The draft U.N. Security Council resolution aims to add pressure on Hamas, calling on both Hamas and Israel to fully implement the cease-fire deal "without delay and without condition," according to the text obtained by VOA. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations emphasized the importance of this opportunity, stating, "Israel has accepted this proposal and the Security Council has an opportunity to speak with one voice and call on Hamas to do the same. Doing so would help save lives and alleviate the suffering of civilians in Gaza, as well as hostages and their families. Council Members should not let this opportunity pass by and must speak with one voice in support of this deal."

A vote on the resolution could take place as soon as Monday.

The proposed cease-fire agreement envisions a second phase that includes a permanent cessation of hostilities, the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops, and the return of all remaining hostages. A final phase involves a multiyear reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip, much of which has been devastated by eight months of Israeli bombardment.

On Sunday, the U.S. military resumed air drops of humanitarian aid to northern Gaza after pausing due to adverse weather conditions and Israeli military operations in late May. This resumption followed the completion of repairs to a temporary pier on the Gaza coast, which had facilitated truckloads of aid by sea before being damaged.

World Food Program (WFP) chief Cindy McCain announced a pause in aid distribution via the pier, citing concerns for staff safety after rockets hit two of the agency's warehouses. Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation," McCain expressed the need to ensure safety before resuming operations, while emphasizing that the WFP continues to operate in other parts of the region.

The WFP reiterated its call for improved aid access, urging Israel to facilitate supply deliveries through the Kerem Shalom crossing and for humanitarian organizations to have "safe and unhindered access to reach all civilians in need across Gaza."

The October 7 Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to official figures. Hamas militants took about 250 hostages, with 116 still in Gaza, including 41 that the Israeli army reports as dead. Israel's military response has resulted in at least 37,000 Palestinian deaths, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between fighters and civilians in its count.

The push for a cease-fire in the Gaza conflict highlights the urgency of international diplomacy in addressing the humanitarian crisis. With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaging regional leaders and the U.N. Security Council poised to vote on a resolution, there is a concerted effort to bring about a halt in fighting and a pathway to lasting peace. The proposed agreement, which includes critical measures for the protection of civilians and the release of hostages, represents a significant step towards resolving a devastating conflict that has claimed thousands of lives. The resumption of humanitarian aid and the call for safe access underscore the immediate needs of the affected populations. As the international community watches closely, the hope is that unified actions will pave the way for stability and reconstruction in Gaza, ultimately fostering a more secure and peaceful future for all involved.

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