UN Security Council rejects Russian resolution for humanitarian aid to Gaza

Text backed by Arab nations calls for 'an immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire'

Palestinians, some with foreign passports, hope to cross into Egypt while others wait for aid at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP
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The UN Security Council on Monday failed to adopt a Russian-drafted resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Moscow’s one-page text, which was co-sponsored by Arab states including Palestine, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, did not get the support from nine of the 15 council members, the minimum required.

The draft resolution received five votes in favour, six abstentions, and four against – the US, UK, Japan, and France.

The Russian text called for “an immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire” and “strongly condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism".

But it failed to mention Hamas.

The council convened as Israel prepared for an anticipated ground attack on the Gaza Strip, following air and artillery strikes that claimed the lives of more than 2,750 people.

Following the vote, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, said he regretted that the Security Council “once again has found itself a hostage to the ego, the selfish intentions of the western-bloc of countries”.

“This is the only reason why it was not able to send a clear strong and collective message aimed at de-escalation,” Mr Nebenzya said.

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said she agreed that “this council should take action, but we have to get it right and we'll work intensively with all members on the council to do so".

But she urged for a resolution that condemns Hamas and reaffirms Israel's inherent right to self-defence under the UN Charter.

Japan’s top UN envoy, Ishikane Kimihiro, questioned Russia’s timing to put the resolution to a vote while “there is a chance for further engagement".

He said the Security Council's show of “disunity”, which was witnessed at the vote, is “not helpful to anyone”.

The UAE’s UN ambassador, Lana Nusseibeh, said all council members have rightly condemned the indiscriminate murder of innocent Israeli civilians and that 199 of them, including children, were taken hostage.

“We reiterate that condemnation here,” she stressed. But Ms Nusseibeh said that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people or the people of Gaza, who are suffering immensely.

“And that is why council unity is so desperately needed on this file," she said. “At a minimum, this council should be able to come together around the need to protect all civilians, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the safe provision of humanitarian assistance.

"Access to fuel, food, water, medical aid and other basic necessities must be fully restored."

Ms Nusseibeh called for a “framework” for unimpeded and safe access for humanitarian workers.

Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour urged the council not to send the “signal" that "Palestinian lives don't matter.”

"Don't dare say Israel is not responsible for the bombs it is dropping over their heads… What is happening in Gaza is not a military operation. It is a full-scale assault against our people. It is massacres against innocent civilians, " Mr Mansour said.

Israel's UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, said that before the Security Council calls for aid access, calm or restraint, it must designate Hamas as a terrorist group and support Israel's right to defend itself.

“Supporting Israel's right to defend itself means supporting Israel's goal of eradicating these cancerous [extremists] … a genocidal terror group that doesn't even recognise the existence of international law,” he said.

The meeting came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to work out ways to let international assistance from donor nations and multilateral organisations into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Updated: October 17, 2023, 1:12 PM