US vetoes yet another call for ceasefire in Gaza

Published February 21, 2024
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is seen alongside Algerian Ambassador Amar Bendjama during a UN Security Council vote calling for 
a ceasefire in Gaza, at UN Headquarters on Tuesday.—AFP
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is seen alongside Algerian Ambassador Amar Bendjama during a UN Security Council vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, at UN Headquarters on Tuesday.—AFP

• Arab nations’ resolution sees 13 votes in favour, one abstention
• Moscow accuses Washington of providing Israel with ‘a licence to kill’
• US says introducing alternative draft resolution for ‘temporary ceasefire’
• Pakistan slams Security Council’s ‘paralysis’

UNITED NATIONS: The United States once again exercised its veto power on Tuesday to block an Arab resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

The resolution, moved jointly by Algeria and a group of Arab nations, saw 13 votes in favour, one abstention (Britain) and a lone negative vote from the United States.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield justified the veto, stating, “Sometimes hard diplomacy takes more time than any of us might like. Any action this council takes should help and not hinder these sensitive ongoing negotiations.”

She said the United States was introducing an alternative draft resolution, emphasising Washington’s commitment to a hostage deal and the pursuit of sustainable peace.

“We’re at a pivotal and critical moment. Let us commit to doing this the right way at the right time,” stressed Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “That’s why the US is proposing a separate resolution that would work towards a temporary ceasefire based on the formula that all hostages are released,” she said. It would also condemn Hamas, she added.

Should the US draft be adopted, it would be the first time the council condemned Hamas, as well as calls against any forced displacement of Gazans and that a major ground offensive in the enclave would not proceed.

Algerian Ambassador Amar Benjama, who introduced the resolution, voiced frustration over the Security Council’s inertia, declaring, “No excuse can rationalise the Security Council’s inertia, and all endeavors must converge to halt the ongoing carnage in Gaza.”

Benjama warned that “we are rapidly approaching a critical juncture where the call to halt the machinery of violence will lose its significance. Today, every Palestinian is a target for death, extermination, and genocide”.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia criticised the US, accusing it of providing Israel with “a licence to kill”. He asserted that the US obstructed ongoing talks by vetoing the draft resolution and urged Security Council members to counter what he termed as “the lawlessness of Washington”.

“Public opinion will no longer forgive the Security Council for inaction,” he emphasised.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun criticised the US veto, stating it sends the wrong message, pushing Gaza further into crisis. He urged the council to act quickly to stop the violence, emphasising the need to uphold international order and demand a ceasefire, calling it the council’s legal responsibility.

“The council must uphold international order and demand a ceasefire, which is its legal responsibility. The council must not stop its work because of the veto,” urged Ambassador Zhang.

French Ambassador Nicholas de Rivière expressed regret over the resolution’s failure, given the catastrophic situation on the ground. He stressed the urgent need for a ceasefire to protect civilians and address the intolerable human toll and humanitarian situation in Gaza.

“There is an extreme urgency to conclude, without further delay, an agreement on a ceasefire that finally guarantees the protection of all civilians and the massive entry of emergency aid,” urged Ambassador de Rivière.

UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward called for an “immediate suspension in fighting,” leading to a sustainable ceasefire, emphasising the devastating humanitarian crisis faced by Palestinian civilians.

“The human toll and humanitarian situation in Gaza are intolerable, and Israeli operations must end. The Security Council must act without further delay,” stressed Ambassador Woodward.


Pakistan’s UN Ambassador condemned the council’s failure to adopt the Algerian resolution.

“Veto of the Algerian resolution, calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, is a sad reflection of the paralysis of the Security Council ,” he said. “The council is failing the beleaguered people of Gaza.

The veto, he said, also validated Pakistan and its like-minded nations’ opposition to adding new permanent members to the UNSC.

In a joint statement, the Arab group in the UN decried the Security Council’s inertia. “Throughout this process, we have heard calls to give time to a parallel track; however, almost one month after the ICJ orders, signs of hope are still absent for improvement on the situation in Gaza,” they said.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2024



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