The United States used its veto power to block a proposed United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire on Israel’s continuing attack on the Gaza Strip.
Thirteen other members of the Security Council voted in favor of the brief draft resolution sponsored by the United Arab Emirates on Friday, 8 December, while the United Kingdom chose to abstain – citing the absence of condemnation for Hamas.
The vote followed a rare formal warning from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 6 December regarding the global threat posed by the two-month-long conflict, invoking Article 99 of the UN Charter – allowing him to bring to the attention of the Security Council matters he deems a threat to international peace and security.
Washington’s veto, rejecting the notion of putting an end to hostilities, isolated it from the remaining member states.
Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the council that the resolution “was divorced from reality, that would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way.”
“We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” Wood added.
Wood’s comments came only a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged a “gap” between Israel’s intent to protect civilians and what has happened on the ground.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour deemed the vote result “disastrous”, emphasizing the millions of Palestinian lives hanging in the balance.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan did not address the Security Council after the vote, but released a statement on X shortly after.
“A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas,” Erdan said.
UN agencies involved in the war on Gaza continue to raise alarms over Israel’s disproportionate aggression on Gaza and its Palestinian citizens since Hamas’ surprise attack on 7 October.
“There is no effective protection of civilians,” Guterres told the council earlier during the day.
“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.”
The World Food Programme released a recent study that showed nine out of ten Gazan households have gone an entire day and night without food.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarni released a statement after the veto, announcing that Gaza is facing its “darkest hour”, while noting that more than 130 UNWRA staff members have been killed since the start of the conflict.
Israeli airstrikes continue to devastate the cities of Gaza and Rafah in the strip, killing dozens on the morning of 9 December – less than a day after the Security Council failed to issue a resolution.
THE CONFLICT SO FAR
After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.
Over 16,015 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including at least 7,000 children — and over 41,316 others injured. Meanwhile, at least 259 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and at least 3,365 have been injured.
The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been de-escalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and limited aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.
Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, have expressed unconditional support for Israel, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire.
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