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US vetoes UN resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Updated on: 09 December,2023 07:53 AM IST  |  New York

The US Deputy Representative at the UN, Robert Wood, stressed that the resolution is "divorced from reality" and "would not have moved the needle forward on the ground"

US vetoes UN resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Palestinians check the damage of houses destroyed in the latest Israeli strikes on Khan Yunis. Pics/AP

The US on Friday (local time) vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Gaza calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The resolution was put forward by the United Arab Emirates and backed by over 90 member states. 13 members of the UNSC voted in favour of the resolution, while the UK abstained from voting.

The US Deputy Representative at the UN, Robert Wood, stressed that the resolution is "divorced from reality" and "would not have moved the needle forward on the ground."

He said, "Unfortunately, nearly all of our recommendations were ignored. And the result of this rushed process was an imbalanced resolution that was divorced from reality and that would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way. And so, we regretfully could not support it."

Robert Wood said the US could not understand why the authors of the resolution did not include language condemning Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7. He said that he had earlier explained why an unconditional ceasefire would simply be "dangerous" and leave Hamas in place, able to attack again.

"Perhaps most unrealistically, this resolution retains a call for an unconditional ceasefire. I explained in my remarks this morning why this is not only unrealistic but dangerous: it would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on October 7," Wood said.

He said, "We still cannot comprehend why the resolution's authors declined to include language condemning Hamas' horrific terrorist attack on Israel on October 7. An attack that killed over 1,200 people. Women, children, the elderly. People from a range of nationalities. Burned alive. Gunned down. Subject to obscene sexual violence."

"We are very disappointed that for the victims of these heinous acts, the resolution's authors offered neither their condolences nor condemnation of their murderers. It's unfathomable. Nor is there condemnation of the sexual violence unleashed by Hamas on October 7," he added.

Explaining the UK's abstention from the draft resolution, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN Barbara Woodward said her country could not vote in favour of a resolution that fails to condemn the atrocities committed by Hamas on Israeli civilians on October 7.

Barbara Woodward said, "Calling for a ceasefire ignores the fact that Hamas has committed acts of terror and is still holding civilians hostage." She noted that Israel needs to be able to address the threat posed by Hamas and it needs to do so in a manner that abides by international humanitarian law. She reiterated the importance of working meaningfully towards a two-state solution.

Earlier, Robert Wood said that the US does not support calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as it "would only plant the seeds for the next war."

In his remarks at the UN Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East, Robert Wood stated that it continues to pose a threat to Israel and added, "An undeniable part of that reality is that if Israel unilaterally laid down its weapons today, as some Member States have called for, Hamas would continue to hold hostages."

He said, "And as of today, Hamas continues to pose a threat to Israel and remain in charge of Gaza. That is not a threat that any one of our governments would allow to continue to remain on our own borders. Not after the worst attack on our people in several decades."

"For that reason, while the United States strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support calls for an immediate ceasefire. This would only plant the seeds for the next war - because Hamas has no desire to see a durable peace or a two-state solution," he added.

Wood called the UNSC's failure to condemn Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel, including its acts of sexual violence and other unthinkable evils, "a serious moral failure." He emphasised that the UNSC's decision underscores the "fundamental disconnect between the discussions that we have been having in this Chamber and the realities on the ground."

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his condemnation of Hamas' attacks on Israel on October 7. Guterres said that he is "appalled" by the reports of sexual violence.

"There is no possible justification for deliberately killing some 1,200 people, including 33 children, injuring thousands more, and taking hundreds of hostages," he said, adding "at the same time, the brutality perpetrated by Hamas can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."

Guterres said, "While indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israel, and the use of civilians as human shields, are in contravention of the laws of war, such conduct does not absolve Israel of its own violations." He called on the international community to do "everything possible" to end their ordeal.

Antonio Guterres said, "I urge the Council to spare no effort to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, for the protection of civilians, and for the urgent delivery of lifesaving aid."

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