On Friday, the United States stood alone in vetoing a United Nations resolution, supported by nearly all other members of the Security Council and numerous nations, calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza. The resolution's supporters expressed their disappointment and warned of increased civilian casualties and destruction as the conflict enters its third month.
US vetoes UN resolution backed by many nations demanding immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza
The council, consisting of 15 members, voted 13-1, with the United Kingdom abstaining. The United States' solitary position highlighted the growing rift between Washington and some of its closest allies over Israel's prolonged bombardment of Gaza. France and Japan were among those advocating for a cease-fire.
Foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey made an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Biden administration to abandon its opposition to a cease-fire. Their meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken occurred only after the U.N. vote.
The Arab diplomats' mission, along with the vote, shifted the responsibility for protecting Israel from increasing demands to halt the airstrikes killing thousands of Palestinian civilians more squarely onto the United States.
Mohamed Abushaha, the deputy ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, questioned the message being sent to Palestinians and civilians worldwide if unity could not be achieved behind a call to stop the relentless bombing of Gaza.
Robert Wood, the U.S. deputy ambassador, labeled the resolution as "imbalanced" and criticized the council for not condemning Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7, which resulted in approximately 1,200 deaths, mostly civilians. He argued that stopping military action would allow Hamas to continue ruling Gaza and "only sow the seeds for the next war."
Wood stated before the vote that while the United States strongly supports a lasting peace where both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, it does not support calls for an immediate cease-fire.
Israel's military campaign has resulted in over 17,400 deaths in Gaza, 70% of whom were women and children, and injured more than 46,000, according to the Health Ministry of the Palestinian territory. Many others are reportedly trapped under rubble.
Abushahab stated that the resolution, sponsored by his country, had almost 100 co-sponsors in less than 24 hours, reflecting global support for ending the war and saving Palestinian lives.
Following the vote, he expressed profound disappointment at the U.S. veto and cautioned that the Security Council is becoming isolated and appears to be drifting away from its mandate to ensure international peace and security.
Nicolas De Rivière, the French Ambassador and a permanent council member with veto power who supported the resolution, regretted its lack of unity and appealed for a new, immediate, and lasting humanitarian truce leading to a sustainable cease-fire.
Dmitry Polyansky, Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, described the vote as "one of the darkest days in the history of the Middle East" and accused the United States of issuing a death sentence to thousands, if not tens of thousands, more civilians in Palestine and Israel, including women and children.
He stated that history would judge Washington's actions in the face of what he termed a "merciless Israeli bloodbath."
The council convened an emergency meeting to hear from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter for the first time, enabling a U.N. chief to raise threats to international peace and security. He issued a warning of a humanitarian crisis.
US vetoes UN resolution backed by many nations demanding immediate humaniarian cease-fire in Gaza