US vetoes Algeria-backed resolution calling for Gaza ceasefire

Washington planning to propose its own resolution that calls for 'temporary ceasefire' in Gaza

America vetoes UN Security Council resolution on Israel-Gaza war

America vetoes UN Security Council resolution on Israel-Gaza war
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The US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Tuesday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The Algeria-drafted resolution received 13 votes in favour, an abstention from Britain and the US veto.

The resolution demanded “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that must be respected by all parties” and the release of all hostages held in Gaza.

It also opposed the “forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population”.

Similar to previous drafts rejected by the US, the text did not condemn Hamas's October 7 assault.

“Proceeding with a vote today was wishful and irresponsible. We cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy,” said Washington's UN envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield ahead of the vote.

The US diplomat said Algeria’s resolution would negatively affect negotiations currently held in Cairo.

“Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about peace,” she said, adding that it could extend the fighting.

Ahead of the vote, Algeria’s UN envoy Amar Bendjama urged the international community to act swiftly, as the value of a ceasefire diminishes with each passing moment.

Gaza war is worst I have seen, UN aid chief says – video

Gaza war is worst I have seen, UN aid chief says

Gaza war is worst I have seen, UN aid chief says

“We are rapidly approaching a critical juncture where the call to hold the machinery of violence will lose its significance today,” he said.

“Every Palestinian is a target for death, extermination and genocide.”

Following the vote, the UAE criticised the veto decision, saying: "The UAE is deeply disappointed with the outcome of today's vote in the UN Security Council on the humanitarian ceasefire draft resolution, which was supported by 13 of the 15 members.

"After more than four months of carnage and no end in sight, this war must end."

The vote comes as Israel prepares to begin an expected ground invasion of Rafah, where about 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering.

Samuel Zbogar, Slovenia’s representative at the UN who voted in favour of the resolution, said: “A possible Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would have unimaginable humanitarian consequences.

“It would push us on a path of no return. It is our duty to react before we wake up in a nightmare. And that’s why we are convinced it is high time for the council to pull the brake.”

The Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour called the US veto "absolutely reckless and dangerous".

"The message given today to Israel with this veto is that it can continue to get away with murder," Mr Mansour said.

But Israel's ambassador to the UN was firm that a ceasefire would do nothing to solve the issues that caused the conflict.

“Will ceasefire bring home the hostages?” Gilad Erdan asked council members.

“Will a ceasefire eliminate Hamas? Will a ceasefire disarm Hezbollah, the Houthis and all the other Iranian terrorist proxies?

“We're still waiting for [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas to condemn the October 7 massacre. What exactly will this silver bullet ceasefire achieve?”

Alternative resolution

The US has proposed its own draft resolution that calls for a temporary ceasefire “as soon as practicable” and warns Israel against a ground assault on Gaza’s southern city of Rafah.

The draft, seen by The National, underscores US “support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practical, based on the formula of all hostages being released” and calls for lifting all barriers on the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale.

The US text states that a major ground offensive in Rafah would not only harm civilians but also displace them into neighbouring countries, and says that “a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances”.

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It also rejects any actions to reduce the territory of Gaza on a “temporary or permanent basis”, including through the establishment of so-called buffer zones.

The document does not name Israel, but in a clear reference, it “condemns calls by government ministers for the resettlement of Gaza and rejects any attempt at demographic or territorial change in Gaza that would violate international law”.

As an alternative to the Algerian-proposed resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, the US draft marks the first time Washington has explicitly supported a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict.

Guyana’s ambassador to the UN, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, told The National that US diplomats have “indicated that they will make the formal presentation of their draft” after council members are finished considering the Algerian draft.

Richard Gowan, UN director for the International Crisis Group, told The National that, to date, the US has only been focused on humanitarian issues in Gaza.

“Now it is trailing a text involving significant comments on the military situation in Gaza,” he said.

“[US President Joe] Biden won't desert Israel at the UN, but he may be using the UN as a platform to signal his displeasure with the state of Israel's campaign.”

Mr Gowan said the US draft may be a message to Israel to “rein in” its campaign in Gaza and stop events in the West Bank from spiralling.

“The mere fact that the Biden administration is floating a text with quite specific implicit warnings to Israel, especially over Rafah, is telling.”

Updated: February 21, 2024, 7:02 PM