On Friday, the United States utilized its veto power to block a proposed United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza. This move diplomatically isolated Washington, highlighting its support for its ally. Thirteen members voted in favor of the resolution, presented by the United Arab Emirates, while Britain chose to abstain. The decision followed a rare warning from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, formally addressing the 15-member council about the global threat posed by the two-month-long conflict, resulting in the loss of thousands of civilian lives.
Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the council that America did not support the draft resolution because it was a “rushed, imbalanced text divorced from reality” and would not have moved the needle on the ground in any concrete way. He said it would have allowed Hamas to “exploit the pause” to continue its terrorist activities and allow it to “plan, train and rearm.”
Palestinians living in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are desperate for an end to the violence that has killed more than 17,000 people, including many women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry. Thousands more are trapped under rubble. Human Rights Watch accused the United States of risking complicity in war crimes, and Medecins Sans Frontieres warned that the lack of action by the Security Council was jeopardizing its humanitarian work in the area.
But the UAE diplomat who spearheaded the proposal, Mohammed Abushahab, said it was regrettable that the U.S. veto had prevented the council from doing its job. He said the Security Council was becoming increasingly isolated and “appears untethered” from its mandate to ensure international peace and security.
He said the resolution had been co-sponsored by nearly 100 countries in less than 24 hours and reflected growing global concern about the crisis in Gaza, which is “a tragedy for Israelis, Palestinians, the world community, and the entire human family.”
British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the council that the United Kingdom had voted for the text because it understood that a humanitarian pause was needed to save civilian lives but that this could not be used as an excuse to continue the war to destroy Hamas. He said it was “alarming that the U.S. has blocked such a clear call to stop the conflict.” But he added that Britain believed the Security Council should be “honest and credible in its role as the guardian of international law.”