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Saturday, July 20, 2024

US blocks UN Gaza ceasefire appeal

Washington has vetoed a resolution demanding a humanitarian cessation of fighting in the Israel-Hamas war

The US has cast the lone dissenting vote against a proposed UN Security Council resolution that would have demanded a humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, amid rising civilian casualties in Gaza.

Thirteen member states voted in favor of the resolution, which was put forward by the United Arab Emirates on Friday in New York. The UK abstained, leaving Washington diplomatically isolated in blocking the measure.

“What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?” Deputy UAE UN Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab asked members of the council. “Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”

Friday’s vote came after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99, a rarely used provision in the UN charter, to warn the Security Council of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza. He said that with the war raging on for two months and counting, the humanitarian support net in Gaza faces a “severe risk of collapse.”

More than 17,000 Palestinians have been killed and 1.9 million people have been displaced since the war began in October. Hamas triggered the war by launching surprise attacks against villages in southern Israel on October 7, killing an estimated 1,200 people and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza.

US officials have opposed a general ceasefire because it would only help Hamas retain its grip on power in Gaza. A week-long ceasefire late last month enabled the release of 110 Hamas hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinians who had been incarcerated in Israeli jails. It also bought time for aid workers to bring more humanitarian supplies into the besieged Palestinian enclave.

The US mission to the UN said in a statement that it opposed the ceasefire resolution because the “rushed” proposal was “divorced from reality” and would “only plant the seeds for the next war.” Washington’s suggestions for revising the resolution were largely ignored, deputy US UN Ambassador Robert Wood said. Among other concerns, he added, the document failed to include language condemning the Hamas attacks.