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US vetoes Security Council demand for cease-fire in Gaza

Augusta Saraiva, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

The United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have called for a cease-fire in Gaza, rebuffing last-ditch efforts from Arab leaders as alarm grows about Israel’s military campaign.

The U.S. was the only nation on the 15-member council to vote against the resolution, which it criticized for not condemning the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, including sexual violence, and said wouldn’t lead to peace. The United Kingdom abstained and 13 nations voted in favor.

“Unfortunately, nearly all our recommendations were ignored and the result of this rushed process was an unbalanced resolution that was divorced from reality,” said Robert Wood, U.S. deputy ambassador to the U.N.

The resolution was introduced by the United Arab Emirates after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the Security Council to act. The proposal had nearly 100 co-sponsors, a stark indication of how opposition is growing to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

The Biden administration has also expressed reservations about the high civilian death toll but argues Israel must have the right to defend itself against Hamas, which is labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union.

Earlier in the day, officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and the Palestinian territories had made their case for the cease-fire resolution during a visit to Washington. It was the group’s latest stop on a tour of Security Council permanent members, which started in Beijing last month.

 

Vetoing the resolution offers crucial support to Israel, in keeping with President Joe Biden’s argument that the close U.S. ally must not have to tolerate the threat of Hamas. But it also alienates many allies overseas and progressive Democrats at home.

Deciding to abstain would have assuaged the Arab world but exacerbate tension with Israel and weakened U.S. leverage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war planning.

“Against the backdrop of the Secretary General’s grave warnings, the appeals by humanitarian actors, the world’s public opinion, this council grows isolated,” Mohamed Abushahab, deputy ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, said after the vote.

The UAE and other backers of the resolution argued that Israel’s response — which Hamas-run health authorities say has killed more than 17,000 people — has been too indiscriminate and provoked a humanitarian crisis for Palestinians who remain in Gaza.

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