The United States blocks a UN resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States has vetoed a UN resolution, supported by nearly all other Security Council members and dozens of other countries, to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Supporters described it as a terrible day and warned of more civilian deaths and destruction as the war entered its third month.

The vote in the 15-member Council was 13 votes to one, with the United Kingdom abstaining from voting. The isolated US position reflects a growing rift between Washington and some of its closest allies over the months-long Israeli bombing of Gaza. France and Japan were among those who supported the call for a ceasefire.

In a vain attempt to pressure the Biden administration to abandon its opposition to the call to stop the fighting, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were all in Washington on Friday. But their meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not take place until after the vote at the United Nations.

Along with the vote, the mission of Arab diplomats shifted responsibility more directly to the United States to protect Israel from growing demands to stop air strikes that are killing thousands of Palestinian civilians.

“What message are we sending to the Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to stop the ongoing bombing of Gaza?” The Deputy Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed Abushaha, asked after the vote. “Indeed, what message are we sending to civilians around the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood called the resolution “unbalanced” and criticized the council after the vote for failing to condemn the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, or to recognize Israel’s right to defend Israel. . Itself. He declared that halting military action would allow Hamas to continue ruling Gaza and “only sow the seeds of the next war.”

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“Hamas has no desire to see lasting peace, or to see a two-state solution,” Wood said before the vote. “That is why, while the United States strongly supports a lasting peace, in which Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support calls for an immediate ceasefire.”

Israel Military campaign The attack killed more than 17,400 people in Gaza – 70% of them women and children – and injured more than 46,000 others, according to the Palestinian Territories Ministry of Health, which says many more people are trapped under the rubble. The Ministry does not differentiate between deaths between civilians and combatants.

Abu Shehab, the Emirati diplomat, said before the vote that the resolution, which was sponsored by his country, received the support of nearly 100 countries in less than 24 hours, which reflects global support for efforts to end the war and save the lives of Palestinians.

After the vote, he expressed deep disappointment over the US use of its veto, and warned that the Security Council had become increasingly isolated and “appeared unconstrained” by its mandate to ensure international peace and security.

French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière, a permanent council member with veto power who supported the resolution, lamented the resolution’s lack of unity and called for “a new, immediate and permanent humanitarian truce that should lead to a sustainable ceasefire.”

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, described the vote as “one of the darkest days in the history of the Middle East” and accused the United States of passing “the death sentence to thousands, if not tens of thousands of civilians in Palestine and Israel, including.” Women and children.”

He said that “history will judge Washington’s actions” in the face of what he called “the merciless Israeli bloodbath.”

The Council called an emergency meeting to hear from Secretary-General António Guterres, who will speak for the first time He cited Article 99 The Charter of the United Nations, which enables the Secretary-General of the United Nations to raise threats to international peace and security that he deems necessary. He warned against… ‘Humanitarian disaster’ In Gaza, she urged the Council to demand a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons.

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Guterres said he had raised Article 99 – which has not been used at the UN since 1971 – because “there is a high risk of complete collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza.” He warned that the United Nations expects this to lead to “a complete collapse of public order and increased pressure for mass exodus to Egypt.”

He added that Gaza had reached “breaking point” and that desperate residents were at serious risk of starvation.

Guterres said that Hamas’ brutality against Israelis on October 7 “can never justify collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

He stressed that “although Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel, and the use of civilians as human shields, is a violation of the laws of war, such behavior does not absolve Israel of its violations.”

The UN Secretary-General spoke in detail about the “humanitarian nightmare” facing Gaza, noting the intense, widespread and continuing Israeli attacks from the air, land and sea that have reportedly hit 339 educational facilities, 26 hospitals, 56 healthcare facilities, 88 mosques and three churches.

Guterres said that more than 60% of housing in Gaza has been destroyed or damaged, about 85% of the population has been forced to leave their homes, the health system is collapsing, and “there is no safe place in Gaza.”

Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s ambassador to the United Nations, told the council that Israel’s goal is “ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip” and “dispossessing the Palestinian people of their property and forcibly displacing them.”

Mansour said: “If you are against the destruction and displacement of the Palestinian people, then you must be for an immediate ceasefire.” He added: “When you refuse to call for a ceasefire, you refuse to call for the only thing that can put an end to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

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After the vote, he described the US veto as “disastrous” and said it was “a terrible day for the Security Council.”

Mansour said: “We reject this outcome, and we will continue to resort to all legitimate means to stop these abhorrent atrocities.”

But Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant thanked the United States for its “bold leadership.”

He said in a statement: “The ceasefire is tantamount to handing over a prize to Hamas, the liberation of hostages held in Gaza, and a signal to terrorist groups everywhere.” “Stand with Israel in our mission. “We are fighting for our future, and we are fighting for the free world.”

In Washington, Jordan’s top diplomat told reporters that the killing of Palestinian civilians during the Israeli bombing and siege of Gaza constitutes war crimes and threatens to destabilize the region, the United States, and the world for years to come.

“If people don’t see it here, we see it,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said, adding: “We see the challenges we face when we talk to our people. They all say we are doing nothing. Because despite all our efforts, Israel continues these massacres.” .

Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Agnes Callamard, criticized the United States for continuing to transfer munitions to the Israeli government, “which contributes to the death of entire families.”

The United States, by providing weapons and diplomatic cover to Israel “while committing atrocities, including collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, risks complicity in war crimes,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch.

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Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeier and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed.

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