Russia and China block US call for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

22 March 2024, 13:37 | Updated: 22 March 2024, 13:49

Three counties rejected the US-sponsored Gaza ceasefire resolution
Three counties rejected the US-sponsored Gaza ceasefire resolution. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

The UN Security Council has rejected a US proposal calling for an 'immediate and sustained ceasefire' in Gaza following vetoes from both Russia and China.

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Eleven countries voted in favour of the resolution, one country abstained.

Three countries voted against it - Russia, China and Algeria. As China and Russia are permanent members of the council, the vote failed.

The UK's representative to the Security Council said she is "deeply disappointed" that Russia and China did not back the resolution.

Dame Barbara Woodward said the UK had voted for an "an immediate and sustained ceasefire", to free Israeli hostages, and to "urge against a ground offensive into Rafah".

The UK will continue to do "everything we can" to get aid into Gaza, she said.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, said before the vote that negotiations were "close but not there yet unfortunately".

She added the resolution "will move us closer to that deal and help us alleviate that suffering".

Russia's UN envoy said the resolution was an "empty rhetoric exercise"

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Vetoes from both Russia and China meant the resolution failed
Vetoes from both Russia and China meant the resolution failed. Picture: Getty

Vasily Nebenzya said: "If you do this, you'll cover yourselves in disgrace."

Mr Nebenzya called the resolution "exceedingly politicised... to establish the US's ambitions in the region and ensure the impunity of Israel whose crimes in the draft are not assessed".

The Security Council had already adopted two resolutions on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, but none calling for a ceasefire.

Russia and China vetoed a US-sponsored resolution in late October calling for pauses in the fighting to deliver aid, protection of civilians, and a halt to arming Hamas.

They said it did not reflect global calls for a ceasefire.

The US, Israel's closest ally, has vetoed three resolutions demanding a ceasefire, the most recent being an Arab-backed measure supported by 13 council members with one abstention on February 20.

The vote took place as Antony Blinken, America's top diplomat, is on his sixth urgent mission to the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas war, discussing a deal for a ceasefire and hostage release, as well as post-war scenarios.

Nate Evans, the spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations who announced the Friday morning vote, said: "This resolution is an opportunity for the Council to speak with one voice to support the diplomacy happening on the ground and pressure Hamas to accept the deal on the table."

Meanwhile, the 10 elected members of the Security Council have been drafting their own resolution, which would demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that began on March 10 to be "respected by all parties leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire".

It also demands "the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages" and emphasises the urgent need to protect civilians and deliver humanitarian aid throughout the Gaza Strip.

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