Arab countries condemn US veto of resolution calling for Gaza ceasefire

UN resolution was backed by 13 of 15 Security Council members on Friday, with the UK abstaining

Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, flanked by representatives of Arab countries, speaks after the UN Security Council meeting on a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. AFP
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Arab countries including the UAE condemned the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza as Israel continued to carry out strikes across the battered Palestinian territory overnight into Saturday.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the US veto on Friday made Washington complicit in what he described as war crimes against Palestinians.

In a statement released by the presidency, Mr Abbas also said he held the US responsible for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women and the elderly in Gaza.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the US decision to veto the resolution was a “disgrace and another blank cheque given to the occupying state to massacre, destroy and displace”.

The resolution was put forward by the UAE and backed by more than 90 UN member states.

Thirteen of the UN Security Council's members voted in favour of the resolution, with the UK abstaining.

"What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?” the UAE’s deputy UN Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab said.

“Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”

The Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the Security Council that the outcome of the vote was disastrous.

“If you are against the destruction and displacement of the Palestinian people, you must stand against this war. And if you support it, then you are enabling this destruction and displacement regardless of your intentions.”

He said every Palestinian life is “hanging in the balance”.

Oman's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement expressing the sultanate's regret over the US veto and its rejection of the move.

The statement renewed Oman's call for the international community to exert all political, diplomatic and legal efforts to end the siege of the Gaza Strip, stop Israel’s attacks, and hold it accountable for the war crimes it may have committed against the Palestinian people.

Hamas, the Iran-backed militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, condemned Washington's move as "unethical and inhumane".

"The US obstruction of the issuance of a ceasefire resolution is a direct participation with the occupation in killing our people and committing more massacres and ethnic cleansing," Ezzat El Reshiq, a member of the group's political bureau, said.

Palestinian health authorities say more than 17,400 people have been killed, most of them civilians, since the Israeli military launched its offensive on Gaza on October 7 in retaliation for attacks by Hamas fighters that killed more than 1,200 people in southern Israel.

The group is still holding more than 100 of the hostages it seized during the attacks, after releasing about half of them during a week-long truce last month in which Israel released numbers of Palestinian prisoners.

Aid agencies demand fresh UN vote

Amnesty International’s secretary general Agnes Callamard said that by vetoing the resolution, the US had shown "callous disregard" for civilian suffering in the face of a staggering death toll, extensive destruction and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in the occupied Gaza strip.

Aid agencies called on the Security Council to reconvene and pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire.

"We are appalled at the failure of the UN Security Council to authorise a resolution demanding a humanitarian ceasefire and unconditional release of hostages held in Gaza," said the statement from Save The Children, Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council, Plan International, Action Against Hunger, Mercy Corps and Care International.

"We call on the UN Security Council to urgently reconvene and pass a resolution which demands a sustained ceasefire, for parties to uphold their obligations under international law and to create the conditions needed to enable humanitarian aid to reach civilians," it said.

A delegation of foreign ministers from Arab and Islamic states called on the US to play "a broader role in pressuring the Israeli occupation for an immediate ceasefire” during a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Washington on Friday, Qatar's Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on X.

Members also expressed “their disappointment at the failure of the UN Security Council, for the second time, to vote on a resolution for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for humanitarian reasons, after the United States used its veto power,” the statement said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for urgent reform of the UN Security Council after the resolution was blocked.

"The UN Security Council demand for ceasefire is rejected only by US veto. Is this justice?" Mr Erdogan said at a human rights conference in Istanbul on Saturday.

"The UN Security Council needs to be reformed," he said.

Britain's representative to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, said the UK abstained from voting on the resolution because it "ignores the fact that Hamas has carried out terrorist acts and are still holding civilians hostage".

Ms Woodward added that Britain was "very concerned" about the number of civilian deaths in Gaza.

Updated: December 09, 2023, 1:29 PM