The U.S. is facing criticism from the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank, and other global leaders and organizations, after it vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
The security council held an emergency meeting on Friday after U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99, a rare move to force a vote on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, where two million people are displaced. The Hamas-run health ministry says 17,000 people have been killed under an Israeli campaign to eliminate the militant group after its Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,200 people and took an estimated 240 hostage. More than 100 remain in captivity.
The U.S. vetoed a resolution calling for a ceasefire put forward by the United Arab Emirates and backed by more than 90 Member States at a meeting in New York City. Compared to 13 council members’ votes in favor, the U.S. was the sole veto. The U.K. abstained.
The U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Robert A. Wood told the council he voted against an “imbalanced resolution that was divorced from reality that would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way.”
He said the U.S. still could not understand why the authors declined to include language condemning “Hamas’ horrific terrorist attack” and specifically reports of sexual violence by militants. The resolution also failed to mention Israel’s right to defend itself, Wood said.
The U.S. proposed adding language about its role in diplomacy, increased opportunities for humanitarian aid, encouraging the release of hostages, the resumption of pauses in fighting and laying a foundation for peace, but Wood said “nearly all of our recommendations were ignored.”
Earlier in the day, Wood told the council the U.S. wants a two-state solution, but doesn’t support an immediate ceasefire as “this would only plant the seeds for the next war—because Hamas has no desire to see a durable peace, to see a two-state solution.”
Israel is not a member of the U.N. Security Council. The country’s U.N. ambassador said in a statement after the vote that “a ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas,” the Times of Israel reported.
Hamas said in a statement on Telegram that it strongly condemned the veto, adding “we consider the U.S. administration to be an accomplice in the killing of our people through its political and military support for the occupation to continue its genocidal war on the Gaza Strip.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who leads an entity U.S. President Joe Biden said should govern Gaza and the West Bank after the war, also said in a statement that the veto made the U.S. complicit in “war crimes.”
“The president has described the American position as aggressive and immoral, a flagrant violation of all humanitarian principles and values, and holds the United States responsible for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women and elderly people in the Gaza Strip,” the statement read.
Other countries’ ambassadors also criticized the U.S. veto. China’s representative to the U.N., Zhang Jun, called out “double standards,” arguing it was self-contradictory to condone continued fighting while “claiming to care about the lives and safety of people in Gaza.”
The Russian representative to the U.N., Dmitry Polyanskiy, claimed “our colleagues from the U.S. have literally before our eyes issued a death sentence to thousands if not tens of thousands more civilians in Palestine and Israel."
Nicolas de Rivière, the French ambassador to the U.N., said that by refusing to unify and commit to negotiations, the council was failing its mandate and the situation in Gaza would only worsen. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has previously called for a ceasefire.
A slew of global organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders similarly condemned the veto, saying it would allow death, destruction and a humanitarian disaster to continue.
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