US vetoes Security Council resolution calling for ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Gaza

NEW YORK CITY: The US on Wednesday vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for “humanitarian pauses” in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, citing as its reason the failure of the text to include language reiterating Israel’s right to defend itself.

“Like every nation in the world, Israel has the inherent right of self-defense,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the permanent US representative to the UN.

“Following previous terrorist attacks by groups such as Al-Qaeda and (Daesh), this council reaffirmed that right. This text should have done the same.”

The US was the only member state to vote against the resolution. Seven, including the UAE, voted in favor and seven, including Russia, abstained.

The resolution, which Arab News has seen, was drafted by Brazil, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month. In addition to calling for pauses in fighting to allow unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza, it “unequivocally” condemned the “heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas” and the taking of civilian hostages, called for their immediate release, and urged all parties involved in the conflict to “fully comply” with their obligations under international law regarding the protection of civilians.

Without referring to Israel by name, it also called for the “immediate rescission” of the order given on Oct. 13 for the evacuation of civilians from northern Gaza, and demanded an end to “measures that result in the deprivation of civilians of objects indispensable to their survival, including electricity, water, fuel, food and medical supplies.”

Russia had proposed two amendments to the initial draft of the resolution, including a call for a durable ceasefire in Gaza, and condemnation of all attacks on civilians, including Israeli strikes in Gaza. Both amendments, also seen by Arab News, failed to gain enough votes from council members to be adopted.

Asked for his reaction to the US veto, the French ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, told Arab News that his country does not believe that the proposed resolution contained “any contradiction between supporting Israel after this tragedy. We said it on day one, we continue to support Israel after that terrorist attack.”

He added: “Hamas is a terrorist organization and we totally recognize the right of Israel to defend itself. On the other hand, protecting civilians, granting humanitarian access, calling for full respect of international humanitarian law and Geneva conventions; there is absolutely no contradiction.”

After Wednesday’s vote, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said that those who rejected the resolution voted “against the cessation of bloodshed in the Middle East. There could be no other explanation for it.” He told them that they “are going to have to bear responsibility for it, to the people of your countries, to the people in the region, and the people who are living under this terrible deadly threat.”

The UAE called during the council meeting for “a full independent investigation” into the attack on Al-Ahli Hospital on Tuesday, in which hundreds of people are feared to have been killed, and for the perpetrators to be held accountable.

Lana Nusseibeh, the permanent Emirati representative to the UN, said her country supports “no less than a full humanitarian ceasefire. We don’t ask for this to be done at the expense of Israel’s security, but so that people may tend to their wounded, bury their dead in dignity and begin putting their lives back together.”

She added: “This ceasefire is also crucial so that vital humanitarian aid may enter and aid workers do their work safely.”

Nusseibeh reiterated that “Hamas is indeed responsible for sparking this latest fire that is now engulfing the streets of Arab capitals around the region. We have called them out on this openly for the heinous attacks on Oct. 7.

“But make no mistake, the kindling was already there, fueled by decades of violent dehumanization, dispossession and despair. That is why we cannot, however convenient, lose sight of the context of this crisis, the longest ongoing occupation in the world today, of a people that do not wish to be ruled and have been let down again and again and again by all of us.”

She added: “Three years ago, my country established diplomatic relations with Israel. The Abraham Accords are grounded in a simple but enduring truth that peace and dialogue are better than violence and enmity. Along with our Israeli and American partners, we sought a new Middle East, where coexistence and cooperation deliver prosperity, security and peace for all.

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

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