World News 22 Mart 2024

UN rejects US resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

The UN Security Council has rejected a US-sponsored resolution calling for an “immediate and sustained ceasefire” in Gaza.

It comes after permanent members Russia and China chose to veto a motion tabled on Friday.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN claimed the proposal was exceedingly politicised and would have effectively given the green light for Israel to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians have sought refuge.

UN rejects US resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Gaza
Image:
US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Pic: Reuters

Israel has been coming under increasing pressure to allow more humanitarian aid to reach over two million people in Gaza, and better protect civilians.

The draft had undergone “many rounds of consultations” with members of the 15-seat council, and marked a toughening of America’s stance towards Israel.

UN rejects US resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Gaza
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Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, said the resolution’s failure was “really outrageous and below the dignity of the UN Security Council”.

She added: “There are two deeply, deeply cynical reasons behind this vote. First, Russia and China still could not bring itself to condemn Hamas’s terrorist attacks on October 7.

“Russia and China refuses to condemn Hamas for burning people alive, for gunning down innocent civilians at a concert, for raping women and girls, for taking hundreds of people hostage.

“This was the deadliest single attack on Jews since the Holocaust – and a permanent member of this council can’t even condemn it.”

Analysis: No resolution, but a significant day

There is no world crisis grave enough to forge unity at the UN, one that reaches beyond the political dynamic of vested interest.

It was never looking like the resolution would pass, not since the Russians had taunted the Americans over their loose language – the “imperative” around an immediate ceasefire. As the Russians put it, an imperative to put $100 in our pocket doesn’t mean there’s $100 in our pocket.

There are solid arguments behind the Russia/China/Algeria veto. To state that Joe Biden has domestic political difficulties created by the US stance is to state a fact.

The US ambassador had other words for it – audacity and hypocrisy on the part of Russia. Not for the first time at the UN building in midtown Manhattan, the interests of the people of Gaza and a growing catastrophe suddenly felt a long way away.

So no resolution but it’s not a day without significance. America has shifted its position on a ceasefire and, incrementally, increased pressure on Israel.

As important as discussions were around the security council table, the more immediate impact is always going to come from talks in Qatar on an actual ceasefire and actual hostage release.

Its form of words presented to players at the UN will resonate with the key players in Qatar.

Barbara Woodward, the UK’s permanent representative to the UN, warned: “Palestinians are facing a devastating and growing humanitarian crisis which will not improve until more aid can get into Gaza.

“So we are deeply disappointed that Russia and China were unable to support this council to clearly and unequivocally state the need for an immediate and sustained ceasefire.”

Washington had previously vetoed three draft resolutions since the war began – two of which would have demanded an immediate ceasefire.

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