Russia, China veto US draft resolution saying ceasefire in Gaza 'imperative' without demanding it

Ahram Online , AP , Friday 22 Mar 2024

Russia and China have vetoed a US draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council which would have "declared" that a ceasefire in the Gaza war was "imperative" but did not demand an immediate cessation of hostilities.

The UN Security Council votes on a motion for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage deal vote at UN headquarters in New York, on March 22, 2024.AFP


The vote on the US resolution garnered 11 votes for, three votes against - Russia, China and Algeria - and one abstention by Guyana.

Russia's ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia said that the United States was doing nothing to rein in Israel, mocking Washington for speaking of a ceasefire after "Gaza has been virtually wiped off the face of the Earth."

"We have observed a typical hypocritical spectacle," he said.

"The American product is exceedingly politicized, with the sole purpose being to play to voters and throw them a bone in the form of some kind of a mention of a ceasefire in Gaza," he said.

The resolution will "ensure the impunity of Israel, whose crimes are not even assessed in the draft," he added.

Following the vote, the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the Russian and Chinese vetoes "not just cynical" but also "petty."

"Russia and China simply did not want to vote for a resolution that was penned by the United States," she said.

"Let's be honest -- for all the fiery rhetoric, we all know that Russia and China are not doing anything diplomatically to advance a lasting peace or to meaningfully contribute to the humanitarian response effort," she said.

After vetoing the draft resolution, the Permanent Representative of China to the UN Zhang Jun said the US draft resolution evades the most essential concern and need for an immediate and permanent cessation of hostilities and allows Israel to continue killing Palestinians.

He thanked Egypt and Qatar for ongoing efforts to reach a truce and prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

Algeria, a non-permanent member of the UNSC, voted with Russia and China against the resolution.

Permanent Representative of Algeria to the UN Amar Bendjama said the US resolution did not address the core concerns of Arab countries in "the urgency of an immediate ceasefire to prevent the loss of more lives and the immediate cessation of hostilities."

"Regrettably, the draft resolution falls short of our expectations and does not convey a clear message of peace," he said.

After the vote

Shortly after the vote, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour told reporters he hoped a draft resolution for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war, currently being circulated by the Arab bloc at the UN headed by Algeria, would pass “unobstructed.”

Mansour thanked the Arab bloc at the UN for their unwavering support for Palestine, revealing that the bloc is scheduled to meet later Friday to discuss their proposals for a ceasefire resolution.

He decried the war of extermination currently being waged by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza, adding that a real ceasefire is "better late than never."

Mansour also thanked the delegation from Algeria and the delegation from Guyana for their stance in opposition to the US draft resolution, stressing Palestine agrees with their stated reasons for not voting Yes.

Also shortly after the vote, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to keep pressing for a Gaza ceasefire call at the UN Security Council.

"The Security Council must call for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian access," Macron told reporters in Brussels, according to AFP.

He promised to resume work based on an alternative French resolution "along with our US, European and Arab partners to reach an agreement."

Before the vote

Before the vote, the Russian representative at the UN said Moscow supports an immediate ceasefire, but he questioned the language in the resolution and accused US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of “misleading the international community” for “politicized” reasons.

The resolution declared that a ceasefire is “imperative."

The draft that was put to a vote made no direct link to the release of captives taken, which was in the previous draft.

But it unequivocally supported diplomatic efforts “to secure such a ceasefire in connection with the release of all remaining hostages.”

The Security Council had already adopted two resolutions on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, but none calling for a ceasefire.

Russia and China vetoed a US-sponsored resolution in late October calling for pauses in the fighting to deliver aid, protection of civilians, and a halt to arming Hamas. They said it didn’t reflect global calls for a ceasefire.

The US, Israel’s closest ally, has vetoed three resolutions demanding a cease-fire, the most recent being an Arab-backed measure supported by 13 council members with one abstention on 20 February.

A day earlier, the US circulated a rival resolution, which went through major changes during negotiations before Friday's vote.

It initially would have supported a temporary cease-fire linked to the release of all captives, and the previous draft would have supported international efforts for a ceasefire as part of a captive deal.

The vote took place as Blinken, America’s top diplomat, is on his sixth urgent mission to the Middle East since the Israeli war on Gaza, discussing a deal for a ceasefire and captive release, as well as post-war scenarios.

Nate Evans, the spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations, said the resolution was "an opportunity for the Council to speak with one voice to support the diplomacy happening on the ground and pressure Hamas to accept the deal on the table.”

Meanwhile, the 10 elected members of the Security Council have been drafting their resolution, which demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that began on 10 March to be “respected by all parties leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire.”

It also demands “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages ” and emphasizes the urgent need to protect civilians and deliver humanitarian aid throughout the Gaza Strip.

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