US blocks UN move to call for Israel-Gaza ceasefire, as UK abstains over lack of condemnation of Hamas

8 December 2023, 21:35

The US vetoed a ceasefire resolution in the UN, while the UK abstained
The US vetoed a ceasefire resolution in the UN, while the UK abstained. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

The US has vetoed a UN resolution to call for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas, as the UK abstained.

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Thirteen out of the fifteen members of the UN's Security Council backed an immediate ceasefire in a vote on Friday evening.

The US blocked the move, with its deputy ambassador to the UN saying that the wording of the resolution was "rushed" and would result in an "unsustainable ceasefire" that would "plant the seeds for the next war".

The UK did not vote on the resolution, with its representative saying that was because it did not criticise Hamas.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has long called for a ceasefire in the war, which has killed over 16,000 people in Gaza, according to the territory's Hamas-linked health ministry. It came after Hamas invaded Israel, killing 1,200 and taking 240 people hostage.

Read more: Two charged after Keir Starmer heckled by Gaza protesters who claim Labour leader backs 'genocide'

Read more: British team helping prepare Palestinian Authority to take over Gaza after Israel-Hamas war, Defence Secretary says

US deputy ambassador Robert Wood
US deputy ambassador Robert Wood. Picture: Getty

Israel has criticised the UN for the organisation's position on the war.

Neither the UK nor the US have called for a ceasefire, instead backing the idea of 'humanitarian pauses' to allow hostages to be released and aid to get into Gaza.

Both countries have maintained that Israel has a right to defend itself within international law. Some onlookers have claimed that Israel is not taking enough care to protect civilians.

Explaining why his country blocked the resolution, the US deputy ambassador to the UN Robert Wood said on Friday night that "no country could or should tolerate what Hamas did on 7 October".

Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel on Friday
Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel on Friday. Picture: Alamy

"If any of our own countries had been attacked in this way, we would all expect this council to reaffirm our rights to protect our citizens," he says.

He said that an "unconditional ceasefire" is unrealistic and would "simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on 7 October".

"This resolution essentially says that Israel should just tolerate this, that it should allow this terror to go unchecked."

Mr Wood said this stance was "a recipe for disaster, for Israel, for the Palestinians, and for the entire region."

Strikes on Gaza’s southern edge sow fear in one of last areas people can flee to

Britain's Barbara Woodward said the UK could not "vote in favour of a resolution that does not condemn the atrocities Hamas committed", while also calling for more humanitarian pauses.

Mr Guterres had earlier warned that Gaza was at "breaking point", with people at risk of starvation if the war does not end.

He foretold "a complete breakdown of public order and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt".

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