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US vetoes UN resolution on Gaza ceasefire amid ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict Israel-Hamas
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States votes against the draft resolution in the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Photo Courtesy: UN Photo/Manuel Elías

US vetoes UN resolution on Gaza ceasefire amid ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 21 Feb 2024, 10:55 am

The UN Security Council met again in an emergency session on Gaza in New York on Tuesday, where the United States vetoed a resolution put forward on behalf of Arab States by Algeria demanding “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that must be respected by all parties”.

The latest Council meeting on the Middle East crisis spiralling outwards from the war in Gaza has ended, with another US veto and an abstention on the part of the UK, while Algeria's resolution gained support from 13 out of the 15 members around the iconic horseshoe table.

It was the third US veto of a UN Security Council resolution related to the Gaza ceasefire.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said her delegation is working on a hostage deal. Although gaps remain, the key elements are on the table, so if an arrangement were reached, it would involve a sustainable peace.

"Sometimes hard diplomacy takes more time than any of us might like,” she said. “Any action this Council takes should help and not hinder these sensitive ongoing negotiations.”

Ceasefire would be a ‘death sentence’: Israel

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan said the Council has repeatedly met on the same flawed theme: the demand for a ceasefire.

This “silver bullet” would only achieve the survival of Hamas, he said, and be a “death sentence” for Israelis and Gazans.

“A ceasefire is the epitome of a kick the can down the road”, approach which will provide nothing but immunity for baby killers and rapists, allowing Hamas to regroup and re-arm, he said.

Palestine's reaction

Riyad H. Mansour, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said the Algerian-led draft resolution was brought to the Council “precisely” because Israel persists with its onslaught “despite near unanimous” calls by the international community for a ceasefire.

He recalled the ICJ provisional measures ordering Israel to cease all acts of genocide, incitement of genocide and ensure humanitarian access to the Palestinian people, who are facing death, starvation and repeated forced displacement “every day” across Gaza.

“It has been nearly three weeks since I last addressed the Council following the court’s order, appealing for action to be taken to ensure the implementation of the provisional measures and ensure a ceasefire that would protect the Palestinian people and avert further ravaging of their lives by the Israeli onslaught,” he said.

“But, our appeals have, regrettably, been to no avail,” he added, noting that since that day, the toll has risen from 26,000 Palestinians killed to almost 30,000 – with more than 69,000 injured.

“This means that in just the past 20 days alone, Israel has killed nearly 4,000 more Palestinian children, women and men, in just 20 days. This is a deplorable consequence of inaction,” he stated.

‘Life a living hell’

Mansour said that Palestine together with an “unprecedented” number of countries approached the ICJ to “confront the Israeli impunity that has made life a living hell for Palestinian people”.

Together, they appealed for "an immediate and complete end to this illegal colonial occupation and apartheid regime, the root cause of all the ills our people are suffering, including this genocidal war", he said, noting that the ICJ acted swiftly both on the case brought forward by South Africa and the request for an advisory opinion by the General Assembly.

He questioned when the Security Council would “finally undertake its solemn duties” and act to demand the ceasefire that the vast majority of the world wants to see.

“The veto of this draft resolution is not only regrettable … but also absolutely reckless and dangerous, again shielding Israel even after it commits the most shocking crimes while exposing millions of innocent Palestinian people to more untold horrors,” he said.

UK calls for ‘immediate suspension’ of fighting

UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward called for an “immediate suspension in fighting” which can lead to a permanent sustainable ceasefire, saying Palestinian civilians are facing a “devastating humanitarian crisis”.She said there needed to be a new government for Gaza and the West Bank alongside the removal of Hamas´s capacity to launch attacks against Israel.

Hamas should no longer be in charge in Gaza and a credible political horizon should be opened to pave the way to a lasting two-State solution.

“Simply calling for a ceasefire, as this resolution does, will not make it happen.”

She said it could endanger hostage negotiations and could actually make a permanent ceasefire less likely. The way to stop the fighting is through the release of all hostages.

She said the UK would continue to work for a humanitarian response “at scale”.

China: Veto sends wrong message

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said the use of the veto by the US sends the wrong message, pushing Gaza further into crisis at a time when Palestinians are struggling on the brink of death.

It is totally untenable of the US to argue that the draft jeopardizes ongoing talks. Meanwhile, the violence is destabilising the entire region, and the Council must act quickly to stop the carnage, he said.

The Council must uphold international order and demand a ceasefire, which is its legal responsibility. The Council must not stop its work because of the veto, he said, calling on the international community to give Palestinians a chance to live and to provide justice.

Israel and Rafah assault

A member of Israel’s war cabinet earlier said the country might launch its  ground offensive against Rafah if Hamas members did not release the Israeli hostages by the beginning of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which is less than three weeks away.

“The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know – if by Ramadan our hostages are not home, the fighting will continue everywhere, including the Rafah area,” Benny Gantz, a retired Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, told a conference of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem on Sunday as quoted by The Guardian.

Gazans ‘hanging by a thread’, warns WFP

The UN emergency food relief agency (WFP) warned that Gaza is “hanging by a thread”, calling for urgent access to allow it to reach the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on the verge of famine.

In a statement, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it has reluctantly had to pause aid deliveries to north Gaza until conditions are in place that allow for safe distributions.

“The decision to pause deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger,” the agency said.

It added that it is “deeply committed” to urgently reaching desperate people across the war-torn enclave “but the safety and security to deliver critical food aid – and for the people receiving it – must be ensured”.

In December, the UN and humanitarian partners had warned of the risk of famine in northern Gaza by May unless conditions there improved decisively.

The situation is particularly dire for children, pregnant women and new mothers, with one in six children acutely malnourished.

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