The United States on Friday vetoed a United Nations resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, where more than 17,480 people have been killed in the Israeli offensive since October.
Introduced by the United Arab Emirates, the resolution was backed by almost all of the 15 member nations in the UN Security Council. The United Kingdom abstained from voting on it. China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and France have veto powers in the council.
If the resolution was passed, the council could have implemented the ceasefire by imposing sanctions on Israel or by permitting the use of international force.
“While the US strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israel and Palestine can live in peace and security, we do not support calls for an immediate ceasefire,” Robert Wood, the deputy US ambassador to the UN, reported Al Jazeera. “This would only plant the seeds for the next war, because [Palestinian militant group] Hamas has no desire to see a durable peace, to see a two-state solution.”
The resolution was taken up after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday invoked the rarely-used Article 99 of the UN Charter to call a meeting of the Security Council and urged it to end the war in Gaza.
Article 99 is the “only independent political tool” that allows the UN secretary general to initiate a meeting of the Security Council on “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”, reported Al Jazeera.
Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of Palestine to the UN, said the US’ actions were “beyond regrettable” and “disastrous”.
“Millions of Palestinian lives hang in the balance, every single one of them is sacred and worth saving,” he said.
Mansour also said that instead of allowing the council to follow its mandate by finally making a clear call on the situation, “the war criminals are given more time to perpetrate their crimes”.
He added: “How can this be justified? How can anyone justify the slaughter of an entire people?”
Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen thanked the US for using its veto powers. “With gratitude to our ally, the US, for its support to continue the fight to bring the hostages home and to eliminate the Hamas terrorist organisation, which will bring a better future to the region,” Cohen wrote in a post on X.
The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey met US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Friday after the UN vote, reported the Associated Press.
United Arab Emirates Deputy Ambassador to the UN Mohamed Abushaha asked after the vote what kind of message the UN ends up sending to Palestinians if all member states cannot unite to “halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza”
“What is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”, he asked.
France called for “a new, immediate and lasting humanitarian truce that should lead to a sustainable cease-fire” while Russia called the vote “one of the darkest days” in the history of West Asia.
The US had vetoed another resolution for a humanitarian pause in the conflict on October 18 on the grounds that the text did not recognise Israel’s right to self-defence after Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked the country on October 7.