UNITED NATIONS, Oct 26 (APP): China and Russia vetoed a U.S. resolution at the U.N. Security Council that would have condemned Hamas, called for the release of hostages in Gaza and allowed for “humanitarian pauses” in the raging Israel-Palestine conflict to aid civilians.
Ten members voted for the U.S. text in the 15-member Council, 3 against (China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates), with Brazil and Mozambique abstaining.
A negative vote from any one of the five permanent members of the Council stops action on any measure put before it. The permanent members are :China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
“The (US) draft does not reflect the world’s strongest calls for a ceasefire, an end to the fighting, and it does not help resolve the issue,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told the council after the vote.
“At this moment, ceasefire is not just a diplomatic term. It means the life and death of many civilians,” the Chinese envoy said.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, also said the U.S. measure did not call for a cease-fire in the raging conflict nor bar Israel from its ground operations in Gaza.
“The bloodshed is ongoing, the number of civilian causalities in now in the thousands [and] millions are displaced,” he said, urging a “hard think about the shocking figures.”
He recalled the earlier Russian proposal, a depoliticized resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire, which unfortunately was not supported by most members of the Council.
“We did listen to all of you,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Council after the double veto, which she described as disappointing. “Though today’s vote was a setback, we must not be deterred.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has all along called for a humanitarian ceasefire, a call Israel and its closest ally, the U.S., do not support, as the Tel Aviv regime pushes ahead to achieve its objective to completely destroy Hamas.
UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward said through the US proposal, the Council could have condemned Hamas’ attacks. At the same time, she said, Russia’s draft failed to recognize Israel’s right to self-defence.
The UAE Ambassador, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, said “The stakes are too high” and the Council “must step up”.
“We know what the most pressing humanitarian needs are,” she said, adding that these include a humanitarian ceasefire, release of all hostages, humanitarian access, fuel, water, and adherence to international humanitarian law.
Israel’s Ambassador Gilad Erdin argued that his country continues to be attacked, from north and south, and asked Council members how they would feel if faced with this reality.
“You would feel there is a blatant double standard,” he claimed, “and that the Council isn’t taking even the most basic steps anyone with a slight moral compass should take. This is precisely how the State of Israel feels right now.”
In a Security Council debate on Tuesday, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram condemned the Israeli aggression against Gaza, and backed the call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, warning that further massive civilian casualties in the Palestinian enclave could trigger a “wider and more dangerous” conflict.
Both Wednesday’s drafts condemned the terror attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians of 7 October and urged action to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, where fuel is due to run out for hospitals and other crucial services, in a matter of hours, according to UN agencies on the ground.
Key differences in the text included a specific mention in the US-backed proposal of States’ inherent right to self defence, and a call in the Russian-led one for the immediate cancellation by Israeli forces of the evacuation order for civilians to head into southern Gaza.
In the wake of the Security Council deadlock, the 193-member U.N. General Assembly will vote on Friday on a draft resolution put forward by Arab states that calls for a ceasefire. No country holds a veto in the General Assembly, but its resolutions are non-binding, although they carry political weight.