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U.N. Security Council for first time agrees to demand cease-fire in Gaza

On a 14-0 vote with the U.S. abstaining, the council urged a cease-fire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The U.N. Security Council adopts a Gaza cease-fire resolution (AN/U.N. Web TV)

After four failed attempts, the United Nations' most powerful arm on the fifth try approved a long-awaited resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and unconditional release of all hostages in war-torn Gaza.

The United Nations Security Council issued its first call on Monday for a halt in the Israel-Hamas war, saying the warring sides must lay down their arms unconditionally during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The resolution, which passed on a 14-0 vote after the United States dropped its previous use of its veto power, also demands the release of all hostages taken by Hamas during its Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel – but does not require it as a condition of a cease-fire.

It had been proposed by the 15-nation council's 10 elected council members, but also had the backing of China and Russia – two of the council's five permanent veto-wielding members along with France, the United Kingdom and the United States – and the U.N.'s 22-nation Arab Group.

China and Russia also had opposed a U.S.-sponsored version of the resolution on Friday that would have supported “an immediate and sustained cease-fire" in the war.

"This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

After the vote, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a high-level delegation's planned visit to Washington. He said the U.S. was retreating from its principles by no longer requiring the hostages to be released before a cease-fire – a position more in line with China and Russia.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby, however, said the U.S. has not changed its approach.

"Our vote does not — I repeat — does not represent a shift in our policy. We’ve been very clear, we’ve been very consistent in our support for a ceasefire as part of a hostage deal. That’s how the hostage deal was structured and the resolution acknowledges the ongoing talks," Kirby told a White House press briefing. 

"We wanted to get to a place where we could support this resolution," he said. "But because the final text does not have key language that we think is essential, such as condemning Hamas, we couldn’t support it.  Though because it does fairly reflect our view that a ceasefire and the release of hostages come together, we abstained."

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S.-sponsored resolution that was rejected had at its "foundation" the diplomatic efforts led by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt to bring about an immediate and sustainable cease-fire, secure the immediate release of all hostages, and help alleviate the tremendous suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

"We are getting closer to a deal for an immediate ceasefire with the release of all hostages. But we are not there yet," Thomas-Greenfield said after Monday's vote.

"We did not agree with everything in this resolution. For that reason, we were unfortunately not able to vote yes," she said. "However, as I said before, we fully support some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution. And we believe it was important for the council to speak out and make clear that any cease-fire must come with the release of all hostages."