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Again Wielding Veto, US Strikes Down UN Ceasefire Resolution

(JNS) The United States again used its veto power at the U.N. Security Council to thwart a call for the imposition of a ceasefire on Israel.

Washington stood alone on Tuesday, Feb. 20 in voting down an Algeria-drafted resolution that demands an immediate humanitarian halt to hostilities in Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, along with the return of hostages still being held captive in Gaza since Oct. 7 and the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid into the Strip.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the 15-member council that the Biden administration is engaged in ongoing negotiations to bring about a six-week pause in the fighting. If adopted, the resolution on the table on Tuesday would “negatively impact those negotiations,” she said.

“Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about a durable peace,” she said. “Instead, it could extend the fighting between Hamas and Israel, extend the hostages’ time in captivity—an experience described by former hostages as ‘hell’—and extend the dire humanitarian crisis Palestinians are facing in Gaza.”

The United Kingdom abstained from the vote, which was 13-1. Nine votes were needed for passage, but the United States, as one of the body’s five permanent members, can veto any Security Council resolution.

This marks the third time the United States wielded its veto of a ceasefire-centered resolution. Washington previously vetoed a Russian amendment to a resolution that would have demanded a ceasefire.

Barbara Woodward, the U.K. envoy to the global body, said she is “calling for an immediate suspension in fighting,” but it needed to be balanced with assurances that the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on Oct. 7 can never again occur.

France supported the Algerian resolution, but its ambassador, Nicolas de Rivière,
sided with Washington’s view that it is “incomprehensible” that the council has not directly condemned Hamas’s massacre. South Korea also expressed wishes for an explicit condemnation by the council of Hamas’s attacks.

“A majority of us also agree that it’s time for this council to condemn Hamas,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia accused Washington of covering for Israeli crimes and serving to “rule out” a two-state solution, furthering a degradation of ties between Moscow and Jerusalem. Zhang Jun, the Chinese U.N. ambassador, chided the U.S. veto, saying it “sends the wrong message” and undermines council consensus.

Thomas-Greenfield used much of her microphone time on Tuesday to push for a freshly drafted, U.S.-led resolution, which calls for a temporary humanitarian ceasefire “as soon as practicable,” along with several provisions in line with the Algerian resolution about hostage release and scaling up humanitarian aid.

Critics say the Washington draft delays a halt to the fighting and leaves too much open to interpretation about when a ceasefire would be “practicable.”

The U.S. draft specifically condemns Hamas’s massacre, including its documented sexual violence.

“The U.S. text also makes clear that Hamas has no place in future governance of Gaza, nor does Hamas represent the dignity or self-determination of the Palestinian people,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

She added that the draft would clarify the council’s disapproval of a major Israeli military offensive in Rafah under current circumstances.

The Israeli government and military say Rafah remains the final Hamas stronghold in Gaza and a military operation there is needed to root out the terror group.

“This is not, as some members have claimed, an American effort to cover for an imminent ground incursion,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “It is a sincere statement of our concern for the 1.5 million civilians who have sought refuge in Rafah.”

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Thomas-Greenfield said the Algerian resolution’s passage would have left hostages captive with no incentive for Hamas to release them.

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