Russia and China on Wednesday (25/10) vetoed US calls for the UN Security Council to act on the Israel-Hamas conflict by calling for a pause in fighting to allow access for humanitarian aid, protection of civilians and a halt to arms transfers to Hamas and other militants in the Gaza Strip.
The US submitted the draft resolution on Saturday as global anger rises over the worsening humanitarian crisis and the rising number of civilians killed in Gaza. The US took the step just days after vetoing a humanitarian-focused draft resolution proposed by Brazil, saying it needed more time for US-led diplomacy.
The initial US text surprised many diplomats with its blunt stance that Israel had the right to defend itself and demanded that Iran stop exporting weapons to militant groups. The US did not include a call for a humanitarian pause on aid access. But the US later considerably softened the final text submitted to the vote.
“We do hear all of you,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the 15-nation council after the double veto she said was disappointing. “Even though today’s vote is a setback, we should not be discouraged.”
America rarely advises the Security Council to act. Washington usually protects its ally, Israel, at the world body.
Ten members supported the US text, while the United Arab Emirates rejected it and Brazil and Mozambique abstained.
“This draft does not reflect the world’s strongest call for a ceasefire, to stop fighting, and it does not help resolve the problem,” China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun told the Council after the vote. “Nowadays, ceasefire is not just a diplomatic term. This means life and death for many civilians.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has previously called for a humanitarian ceasefire.
UN Security Council members vote during a Security Council meeting on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, at UN headquarters in New York, USA, October 25, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/David ‘Dee’ Delgado)
After a deadlock in the Security Council, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly will vote on Friday on a draft resolution submitted by Arab countries calling for a ceasefire. No country has veto power in the General Assembly. The resolution is non-binding, but has political weight.
Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas, which rules Gaza, in retaliation for the October 7 attack that killed 1,400 people. Israel hit Gaza from the air, encircling the enclave of 2.3 million people and preparing a ground offensive. The Palestinian Authority says more than 6,500 people have been killed.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the US of submitting a draft resolution indicating Security Council authorization of Israel’s ground offensive on Gaza “while thousands of Palestinian children will continue to die.” (uh/ab)