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US vetoes UNSC resolution calling for ‘humanitarian pause’ in Hamas-Israel conflict

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United Nations: While US President Joe Biden was in Israel on Wednesday, his country stood isolated in the Security Council vetoing a resolution calling for a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict between Israel and Hamas but also condemning the terrorist group’s attack.

The resolution proposed by Council President Brazil received 12 votes, including from Washington’s allies France and Japan, while another ally, Britain, and Russia abstained, but it was negated by the US veto.

The vote took place under the shadow of the explosion at a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds on Tuesday and the vetoed resolution called for ending attacks on civilians and for sending aid to Gaza.

Palestinians, who blamed an Israeli attack, said at least 470 people were killed in the hospital explosion, while Biden asserted that “it was done by the other team”, meaning Palestinians.

Palestinians say more than 3,000 people have been killed in the retaliatory attacks launched by Israel for the destructive incursion by Hamas terrorists who killed at least 1,700 and took about 200 hostages on October 7.

Before the resolution was put to vote, two amendments proposed by Russia failed to pass as they did not get the required nine votes and Washington’s sole negative votes did not count as vetoes.

One amendment called for a complete “ceasefire” as distinct from the “humanitarian pause” suggested in Brazil’s draft and the other demanded condemnation of attacks on civilians in Gaza.

Brazil worked without success for nearly a week to get a consensus reaction to the Hamas attack October 7 attack on Israel and its aftermath. Brazil’s Permanent Representative Sergio Franca Daneses said: “Sadly, very sadly, the Council was yet again unable to adopt a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Again, silence and inaction prevail to no one’s long-term interests.”

The vetoed resolution explicitly condemned Hamas for the “heinous” attack on Israel.

On Monday, a resolution cosponsored by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia and 23 countries failed by not getting the minimum nine votes because several countries said that it did not name Hamas in condemning the attack on Israeli civilians.

The US sole negative vote that was a veto of the Brazil-sponsored resolution plays into the hands of the Palestinians and Russia by showing Washington’s isolation from even its allies on the broader situation.

For the Biden administration, the veto was driven by domestic politics that required him to appear to stand solidly in support of Israel and not even countenance any directive to that ally, even though it also sternly condemned Hamas.

Explaining the veto, US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that her country “is disappointed this resolution made no mention of Israel’s rights of self-defence” and added that Biden’s trip is “to demonstrate to the Israeli people that the United States stands with them in their time of sorrow”.

“While we recognise Brazil’s desire to move this text forward, we believe we need to let that diplomacy play out,” she said.

She linked the diplomatic efforts to Biden’s visit to Israel and said that it showed that Washington “is actively engaging at the highest levels to secure the release of hostages to prevent the conflict from spreading, to stress the need to protect civilian lives to address the humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians in Gaza”.

United Arab Emirates Permanent Representative Lana Zaki Nusseibeh said that the Abraham Accord between her country, Israel, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco under US auspices that sought peace and cooperation for the region may be at risk.

“The indiscriminate damage visited upon the people of Gaza in pursuit of Israel’s security risks, extinguishing that hope, the region is already contending with the spillover of this crisis and the enemies of peace are unapologetic about their aims, and that does not play into their hands,” she said.

Russia, long under criticism for the invasion of Ukraine, took advantage of the US veto.

“You’ve made your choice, however, and you are going to have to bear responsibility for it” to the people there, to the people in the region and “the people who are living under this terrible deadly threat”, Moscow’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said addressing the US.

Brazil’s resolution had been scheduled for Monday, but the United States asked for more time to introduce amendments.

Even Russia, which had warned that it would vote against the resolution unless it included a call for an immediate cease-fire and an end to all attacks on civilians, ultimately opted to abstain in order to move forward with a minimal resolution, only to face a US veto.

China’s usually cautious representative, Zhang Jun, was unusually angry today at the Council’s inability to take action to stop the war: “Our reaction is one of surprise and disgust,” he said.

Zhang accused the United States of having led Council members to believe that the resolution could be adopted by failing to oppose during the negotiations.

“Some countries,” Zhang said, without mentioning the US, “say that the Council should act, but the way they voted makes us doubt their willingness to act and their intention to find a solution to the problem.”

He also used his turn to speak to say he blamed Israel for bombing the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday: “China strongly condemns the bombing of the hospital and we demand that Israel abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law,” he said.

–Agencies

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