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The US on Wednesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for “humanitarian pauses” in the Israel-Hamas conflict to allow humanitarian aid access to the Gaza Strip.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Washington’s UN envoy, criticised the resolution for making no mention that Israel had a right to defend itself.
“Like every nation in the world, Israel has the inherent right of self defence, as reflected in article 51 of the UN Charter,” she said.
She also told the 15-member Security Council that President Joe Biden’s trip to the region is a “clear demonstration of the fact that the United States is actively engaging at the highest levels to secure the release of hostages to prevent the conflict from spreading”.
The Brazil-drafted text received 12 votes in favour, two abstentions, and one against.
“We are on the ground doing the hard work of diplomacy. And while we recognise Brazil's desire to move this text forward, we believe we need to let that diplomacy play out,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.
The resolution had called for “humanitarian pauses to allow full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners”.
It also rejected and condemned “the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas that took place in Israel starting October 7, 2023 and the taking of hostages”.
Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s ambassador to the UN, called for a full and independent investigation into Tuesday night's deadly hospital blast in Gaza, and “for those who are responsible to be held accountable as we verify information about the strike”.
She condemned Hamas for “sparking this latest fire that is now engulfing the streets of our capitals around the region”.
“We have called them out on this openly for the hideous attacks on October 7 but make no mistake, the kindling was already there, fuelled by decades of violent dehumanisation, dispossession and despair,” she said.
“That is why we cannot, however convenient, lose sight of the context of this crisis, the longest going occupation in the world today.”
She said she hoped the Security Council in the coming days would “unite behind a resolution”, and that parallel “diplomatic efforts led by the United States help lead us all off this brink that we are edging towards”.
Before voting on Wednesdays' resolution, council members dismissed two Russian amendments, one proposing a “humanitarian ceasefire”, the other condemning indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian structures in Gaza.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to allow for the release of hostages and humanitarian aid access to Gaza.
Louis Charbonneau, UN Director at Human Rights Watch, criticised the US veto as self-defeating.
The vote blocked the “very demands they so often insist upon in other contexts: all parties to comply with international humanitarian law and ensure that vital humanitarian aid and essential services reach people in need”, he said.
“They also blocked a condemnation of the Hamas-led October 7 attack and demand for the release of the hostages.”