Israel-Hamas war: US vetoes UN resolution for Gaza cease-fire

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States on Tuesday vetoed an Arab-backed and widely supported U.N. resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in the disputed Gaza Strip. free hostages kidnapped in Israel.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13 to 1, with Britain abstaining, reflecting strong support from countries around the world for an end to the more than four-month war, which began when Hamas militants invaded southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people. people and taking 250 others hostage. Since then, more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military offensive, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which says the vast majority were women and children.

It was the third US veto of a Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, and came a day after the United States distributed a statement. rival resolution That would support a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, linked to the release of all hostages, and call for the lifting of all restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Nearly every council member — including the United States — expressed grave concern about the looming catastrophe in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where some 1.5 million Palestinians have taken refuge, if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with his plan. to evacuate citizens of the city and move the Israeli military offensive to the area bordering Egypt, where Israel says Hamas fighters are hiding.

Before the vote, Algeria’s UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama, the Arab representative on the council, said: “This resolution stands for truth and humanity and stands against the advocates of murder and hatred.”

“A vote in favor of this draft resolution is support for the Palestinians’ right to life,” he said. “Conversely, a vote against the proposal implies an approval of the brutal violence and collective punishment imposed against them.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield responded by saying the United States understands the council’s desire for urgent action but believes the resolution would “adversely impact” sensitive hostage agreement negotiations and delay fighting for at least six weeks interrupt. If that happens, “we can take the time to build a more lasting peace,” she said.

The proposed US resolution, Thomas-Greenfield said, “would do what this text does not: pressure Hamas to accept the hostage deal on the table and help broker a pause that allows humanitarian aid to reach Palestinian civilians in desperate need.”

She later told reporters that the Arab draft did not link the release of the hostages to a ceasefire, which would allow Hamas to stop fighting without having to take any action. That would have meant “the fighting would have continued, because without the release of the hostages we know the fighting will continue,” she said.

Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said the word ceasefire is being used in the Security Council, the General Assembly and by UN officials “as if it were a panacea, a magical solution to all the problems in the region.”

He called that “an absurd idea,” warning that a ceasefire in Gaza would allow Hamas to rearm and regroup and that “their next attempt at genocide against Israelis will only be a matter of when, not or.” He pointed to Hamas statements vowing to repeat the October 7 atrocities “again and again and again until Israel is destroyed.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, responded that the “message given to Israel today with this veto is that the country can continue to get away with murder.”

He warned that more babies will be killed and orphaned, that more children will die of hunger, cold and disease, that more families will be threatened with further forced displacement, and that the entire 2.3 million inhabitants of Gaza will be left without food, water, medicine and shelter will be left behind.

And in a sharply critical message to the United States, Israel’s closest ally, Mansour said: “It means that human lives that could have been saved are instead being left to Israel’s genocidal war machine, deliberately and knowingly by those who are against a ceasefire. firework.”

What happens next remains to be seen.

The 22-nation Arab Group could submit its resolution to the UN General Assembly, which includes all 193 UN member states, where it will almost certainly be approved. But unlike Security Council resolutions, Assembly resolutions are not legally binding. Mansour indicated that this is an option that is being considered.

Thomas-Greenfield told the council that the United States will “seriously engage in negotiations” on the proposed resolution, which would give all council members time to comment, “rather than imposing an arbitrary deadline for the vote.”

The United States must also defend its veto of the resolution at a meeting of the General Assembly within 10 days.

The rejected Arab-backed resolution would have demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire respected by all sides, ending the war.

In contrast, the US draft resolution would underline the Security Council’s support for a temporary ceasefire “as soon as possible, based on the formula of the release of all hostages,” and call for “the removal of all obstacles to the provision of humanitarian assistance assistance in the territory of the United States”. dish.”

It is the first time the US has used the word ‘ceasefire’ instead of cessation of hostilities.

The Arab draft would also have demanded the immediate release of all hostages and rejected the forced relocation of Palestinian civilians unhindered humanitarian access throughout Gaza, and the repeated council demands that Israel and Hamas “scrupulously comply” with international law, especially the protection of civilians.

Without naming either side, it said it condemned “all acts of terrorism” and reiterated the council’s “unwavering commitment” to a two-state solution, where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace.

With measures sure to anger Israel – and deepen differences and tensions between US President Joe Biden and Israel’s Netanyahu – the US draft resolution reiterates the same unwavering commitment to a two-state solution that the Israeli leader opposes.

Biden has repeatedly called on Israel to protect Palestinian civilians, and the draft resolution says Israel’s planned major ground offensive in Rafah “must not proceed under the current circumstances.”

And it warns that further relocation of civilians, “including possibly to neighboring countries,” a reference to Egypt, would have serious consequences for regional peace and security.

In another criticism aimed at Israel, the US draft “condemns calls by ministers for Gaza resettlement and rejects any attempt at demographic or territorial change in Gaza that would violate international law.”

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who has called for a ceasefire since mid-October, accused the United States of “ambiguous and hypocritical calls” for the council to wait for diplomacy to yield results on a hostage deal .

“It could not achieve any results because Washington’s real goal is not to achieve peace in the Middle East, not to protect civilians, but rather to further their geopolitical agenda, demanding at any cost that their closest ally is protected in the Middle East. Nebenzia told the council, claiming that the US “has given Israel an effective license to kill Palestinians.”

Although this was the third US veto of a Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, the council has passed two resolutions on Gaza in which the US abstained.

His first resolutionon November 15 called for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” in Gaza to address the escalating crisis for Palestinian civilians amid Israel’s air and ground attacks. In late November, a seven-day pause led to the release of 120 hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Israel’s release of 200 Palestinian prisoners.

On December 22, the council adopted a watered down resolution calling for an immediate acceleration of aid deliveries to hungry and desperate civilians in Gaza, but without the original plea for an “urgent suspension of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas.

It did call for “creating the conditions for a lasting cessation of hostilities.” The steps were not defined, but diplomats said this was the council’s first reference to stopping the fighting. Due to the ongoing fighting and the lack of a new humanitarian pause, little aid has reached Gaza.

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