US vetoes UN Ceasefire Call for Israel-Gaza Fighting

At the United Nations Security Council on February 21st 2024, the United States exercised its veto power to override a resolution put forward by Arab nations led by Algeria that sought an urgent ceasefire and end to major Israeli military offensives in Gaza Strip amidst renewed heavy combat engagements.

Ceasefire Resolution Content

Algeria, the current Arab member of the Security Council, introduced the initial draft resolution more than two weeks ago. The draft UNSC text called for “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” invoking last month’s International Court of Justice interim order asking Israel to prevent acts amounting to genocide in Gaza territories under its control. It also separately demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

Wording Inspired by Biden

The US resolution proposal circulated separately did deploy the term “ceasefire” for the first time under Biden administration, calling for truce based on release of hostilities and lifting barriers on aid access although avoiding reference to preventing potential acts of genocide flagged by ICJ.

Rationale Behind Veto

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield clarified Washington vetoed the resolution as it risked undermining ongoing backchannel negotiations led by Egypt and Qatar for temporary Gaza truce and hostage exchange between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas.

Warning Against Ground Offensive

Notably, the American counter resolution specifically warned Israeli authorities not to launch feared large scale ground invasions into Gaza city of Rafah which could witness heavy urban warfare significantly escalating humanitarian crisis and civilian casualties.

International Reactions

While 14 out of 15 UNSC member states voted to call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s war on Gaza that has killed more than 29,000 people, closest US ally UK abstained. Algeria and Arab partners remained deeply critical of US blockade preventing urgent Gaza de-escalation repeatedly delaying fact finding missions earlier. Israel welcomed US support.

For a UN Security Council resolution to be adopted, it requires at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes by any of the five permanent members namely the US, UK, France, Russia or China.

Israel-Gaza Conflict

On 27 October 2023, Israel launched a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip, as part of the Israel–Hamas war, with the stated goals of destroying Hamas, freeing the hostages and controlling the Gaza Strip. The invasion came after a Hamas-led attack on Israel on 7 October 2023.

More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the start of the Israeli operation, including over 10,000 children and 7,000 women, with another 7,000 people missing and presumed dead.

 


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