US vetoes UN security council call for ceasefire of Israel war in Gaza

Ahram Online , Saturday 9 Dec 2023

As expected, the US blocked a UN security council resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Gaza, using the veto, to protect once again, Israel, which killed more than 17,400 Palestinians in the occupied territories since 7 October.

war on Gaza
US Ambassador Alternate Representative of the US for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations Robert A. Wood raises his hand during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Israel's war on Gaza, on December 8, 2023. AFP


With 13 votes in favor and one abstention from the UK, the US, as a permanent member, stood as the sole nation opposing the resolution.

The US representative to the UN claimed the proposed resolution was "imbalanced" and "divorced from reality", adding it "would not move the needle on the ground in any concrete way."


Criticism over US, UK votes


Russia slammed the US and UK for respectively voting against and abstaining from the vote to support the resolution, saying they are "complicit to merciless Israeli bloodbath", The Guardian reported.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, deputy charge d’affaires of the Russian Federation, told the UN security council after the vote failed, that the US's obstruction of a ceasefire is an American death sentence against thousands or maybe dozens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

"One can speak cynically with nice empty words about democracy, human rights, women, peace, security, rules, order, as much as you like. However, the real value of those we have just witnessed when two members of the security council preferred to remain complicit to the merciless Israeli bloodbath," he said.

However, he expressed confidence "that the outcome of our vote has resounded painfully in the hearts of ordinary people in the US and the UK, whose calls for peace and common sense have gone unheeded by the ruling elites of those countries."

The US veto marks "a turning point in history," stated Riyad Mansour, permanent observer of the State of Palestine to the UN.

"Instead of enabling this council to fulfill its mandate by unequivocally demanding an end to two months of massacres, the perpetrators are granted more time to continue their crimes. How can such actions be justified? How can anyone justify the annihilation of an entire population?" questioned Mansour.

He added that "those who were advocating for a prolonging of the assault on the one hand, while also pleading against the commission of atrocity on the other hand, should be convinced by now that the prolongation of this war, obviously, implies the continued commission of atrocities, the loss of more innocent lives, more destruction."

"Hundreds of people will be killed by this time tomorrow. Then hundreds more, and then thousands. Children will be killed, orphaned, wounded, disabled for life, not by mistake, but by design, because the killers have no regard whatsoever for Palestinian life," Mansour further emphasized.

Meanwhile, China's representative at the Security Council also expressed disappointment over the resolution's failure, stating that "endorsing the ongoing conflict contradicts the professed concern for the lives and safety of individuals in Gaza."

"What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?" Deputy UAE U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab asked the council.

"Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?"

Saudi Arabia foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan said it does not seem to be a priority for the international community to end the war in Gaza.

"One of the disturbing facts of this conflict is that ending the conflict and the fighting doesn't seem to be the main priority," he said from Washington DC.

Humanitarian crisis escalates


Ahead of the vote, UN chief Antonio Guterres, which invoked Article 99 of the UN charter, said "a humanitarian nightmare is engulfing the people of Gaza. People of Gaza are looking into the abyss."

"There is no effective protection of civilians," Guterres told the council. "The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival. But nowhere in Gaza is safe."

"I urge the Security Council to spare no effort to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, for the protection of civilians and the urgent delivery of lifesaving aid," he added.

Guterres convened an emergency meeting of the organization's Security Council after Israel war on Gaza left over 17,400 people dead, in vast najority women and children.

"We are at a breaking point, with a high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza, with devastating consequences.

Medecins Sans Frontiers said that Security Council inaction made the body "complicit in the ongoing slaughter."

"To date, the inaction of the United Nations Security Council and vetoes from member states, particularly the United States, make them complicit in the ongoing slaughter; this inaction has given licence to the mass killing of men, women and children," MSF said in a statement.

Since the end of the temporary truce between, MSF said its team has witnessed "a resumption of indiscriminate killing and of forced displacement on a staggering scale and intensity" by the Israeli occupation forces.

It said repeated assurances from both the US and Israel that the war is being waged on combatants alone "runs counter to what we see on the ground."

"On the contrary, this is a total war that doesn’t spare civilians," it added.

Several previous attempts to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire were vetoed.

On Friday, Israel sharply increased strikes on the Gaza Strip, pounding the length of the occupied Palestinian territory and killing hundreds in a new, expanded phase of the war.

Vast areas of Gaza have been reduced to a wasteland.

The United Nations says at least 80 percent of the 2,4 million Palestinians in Gaza has been displaced, facing shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine. The death toll of the Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza has risen to at least 17,487, with thousands more missing and buried under rubble.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, warned in a letter to the President of the UN General Assembly that humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip was "on the verge of collapse."

"In my 35 years of work in complex emergencies, I have never expected to write such a letter, foreseeing the death of my staff and the collapse of the mandate I am expected to fulfill," wrote Lazzarini.

"The premise of UNRWA's mandate, to provide services to Palestine Refugees until there is a political solution, is at great risk," he added.

"Today, as a result of Israel's military operation, nearly 1.2 million civilians are sheltering in UNRWA premises. The agency has become the primary platform for humanitarian assistance to over 2.2 million people in Gaza, a platform on the verge of collapse."


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