A motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza has passed the UN Security Council for the first time.

Proposed by Mozambique, it calls for fighting to stop during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and for steps to be taken toward a permanent ceasefire.

Previous efforts to get a motion through have been blocked by the United States, which used its veto power to prevent it passing.

Others have been blocked by Russia and China, with a motion on Friday kiboshed by the Kremlin as it was deemed not to explicitly call for a proposed assault on Rafah to be stopped.

On this occasion though the US abstained, with the other 14 members of the council voting in favour.

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A Russian amendment was voted against by the White House, with 11 other countries abstaining.

The amendment would have restored the word "permanent" to the opening paragraph of the resolution.

The motion also demands the release of all hostages taken by Hamas in its surprise attack on October 7, but does not link that to the demand for a ceasefire.

US representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: "Colleagues, today this council spoke out in support of the ongoing diplomatic efforts led by the US, Qatar, Egypt to bring about an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, secure the immediate release of all hostages, and help alleviate the tremendous suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who are in dire need of protection and life saving humanitarian assistance.

"The United States fully supports these critical objectives. In fact, they were the foundation of the resolution we put forward last week, a resolution that Russia and China vetoed.

"But colleagues, the United States support for these objectives is not simply rhetorical. We’re working around the clock to make them real on the ground through diplomacy, because we know that it is only through diplomacy that we can push this agenda forward.

"We’re getting closer to a deal for an immediate ceasefire with the release of all hostages, but we’re not there yet.

"Now let’s be clear. A ceasefire could have come about months ago, if Hamas had been willing to release hostages months ago. Instead, Hamas continues to stand in the way of peace to throw up roadblocks cower in tunnels beneath Gaza cities and behind under civilian infrastructure and hide among the civilian population."

More than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed during the fighting, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The agency does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Gaza also faces a dire humanitarian emergency, with a report from an international authority on hunger warning March 18 that “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza and that escalation of the war could push half of the territory’s 2.3 million people to the brink of starvation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had threatened to cancel a planned delegation to Washington unless the US vetoed the resolution.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid described that threat as: "Alarming irresponsibility from a prime minister who has lost it."

That decision was later confirmed, with a statement describing the decision to abstain as "a clear retreat from the consistent US position in the Security Council since the beginning of the war,” and one that “gives Hamas hope that international pressure will allow them to get a ceasefire without releasing our hostages.”

 SNP Westminster Leader Stephen Flynn MP said: “Imminent famine coupled with the death and injury of 100,000 people appears to have finally forced the UK government to find a backbone and vote for an immediate ceasefire.

"The resolution must now be implemented by applying maximum diplomatic pressure in the pursuit of peace. 

“A failure to act now would be unforgivable but the fence-sitting of the US would suggest that Israel may well be free to continue to do as it pleases. 

“The best way to increase the diplomatic pressure for peace would be to back up our words with actions and immediately end all arms sales to Israel.

"The SNP has remained absolute in our calls for an immediate ceasefire, and are relieved to see most world leaders finally following suit."