After furious last-minute negotiations, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday night that the United States was ready to support a Security Council resolution that would call for more desperately needed aid to enter the Gaza Strip.
A vote on the measure, which had been repeatedly pushed off for days, was not expected until Friday at the earliest.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador, emerged from a closed-door meeting of Security Council members on Thursday night to tell reporters that the United States had “worked hard and diligently over the course of the past week” with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to ensure that “we put a mechanism on the ground that will support humanitarian assistance, and we’re ready to vote for it.”
“I won’t share how I will vote,” she said, but added that if the resolution was put forward as written, it would be one “we can support.”
The text of the resolution, circulated after she spoke, dropped an earlier version’s call for the suspension of hostilities, instead calling for “urgent steps” to allow unhindered humanitarian access. It asks the U.N. secretary general to appoint a coordinator tasked with “facilitating, coordinating, monitoring and verifying” that aid cargo is humanitarian in nature, who would also be “consulting all relevant parties.”
Before Ms. Thomas-Greenfield’s statement, anger at the United States had been growing among Security Council members, even among European allies, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. Some diplomats said they had been kept in the dark about the latest negotiations, which included closed-door talks between the United States and Egypt.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks, said that high-level negotiations began between Washington and Cairo early Thursday to find common ground over who would inspect aid going into Gaza. Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, told reporters on Thursday that the Council was in “deep discussion.”
Egypt is not a member of the Council but is involved because it controls the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Cairo wants the United Nations to take over the inspections from Israel to streamline the delivery of aid to the enclave, which has gone weeks with very limited access to basics like food, water and medical care.
The United States, under Israeli pressure, has said Israel must remain involved in the inspections and disputes that U.N. inspections will speed up aid.
The U.N. handles, monitors and delivers humanitarian aid to many conflict zones around the world.
“The U.N. has done this kind of work before,” said Lana Nusseibeh, the U.N. ambassador for the United Arab Emirates, who is leading the negotiations on the resolution. “It is now up to us to ensure that it has robust backing to respond to this catastrophe in Gaza. As we have done from the beginning of these negotiations, we will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of a successful adoption.”
Kate Phillips-Barrasso, vice president of global policy and advocacy for Mercy Corps, a global aid organization, urged the Security Council to act, saying, “Gaza is out of time.”
“As in other conflicts, independent monitoring mechanisms are critical to ensuring aid gets to people quickly and does not involve parties to the conflict determining what gets in and how fast,” she said.
Israel launched the war to crush Hamas and other militant groups after Hamas led an attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that killed roughly 1,200 people and took around another 240 people as hostages. Since then, humanitarian aid has only trickled through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, and it involved a complicated monitoring system in which truck convoys first travel to Israel for inspection, then return to Egypt to cross into Gaza through Rafah.
Health authorities in Gaza say that around 20,000 people have been killed in the enclave since the beginning of the war, the majority women and children, and the U.N. has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe as the vast majority of the enclave’s 2.2 million people have been forced to flee their homes.