US vows to veto Gaza ceasefire resolution at next UN Security Council vote

19 February 2024, 10:14

Israel Palestinians
Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

The vote is expected to take place on Tuesday.

The US has announced it will veto a call for Israel to lay down arms against the people of Palestine in an upcoming vote at the UN Security Council.

The vote, tabled by Algeria and backed by 22 Arab nations,  demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and is expected to take place on Tuesday.

US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement that Washington has been working on a hostage deal for months that would bring at least a six-week period of calm to the region, “from which we could then take the time and the steps to build a more enduring peace”.

President Joe Biden with US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield (right) (Andrew Harnik/AP)

She said US President Joe Biden has had multiple calls over the last week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of Egypt and Qatar to push the deal forward.

“Though gaps remain, the key elements are on the table… and it remains the best opportunity to reunite hostages with their families and enable a prolonged pause in fighting which would allow lifesaving aid to get to Palestinian civilians who desperately need it,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.

Qatar said on Saturday the talks “have not been progressing as expected”.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield added the proposed Arab-backed resolution “wouldn’t achieve those outcomes” and may “run counter” to US goals.

“For that reason, the United States does not support action on this draft resolution. Should it come up for a vote as drafted, it will not be adopted,” she said.

(PA Graphics)

In addition to a ceasefire, the final Algerian draft reiterates the council’s demands that Israel and Hamas “scrupulously comply” with international law, especially the protection of civilians, and rejects the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians.

The draft, seen by the Associated Press, also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas during their surprise October 7 attacks in southern Israel.

Some 1,200 people were killed and about 250 taken captive, with more than 100 still believed to be held in Gaza.

The 22 Arab countries at the United Nations have been demanding a ceasefire for months as Israel’s military offensive in response to the Hamas attacks has intensified, with the number of Palestinians killed surpassing 28,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Israel Palestinians
UN officials report a quarter of the 2.3 million population are now facing starvation (Fatima Shbair/AP)

The Arab Group chair this month, Tunisia’s UN ambassador Tarek Ladeb, told UN reporters last Wednesday that some 1.5 million Palestinians who sought safety in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah face a “catastrophic scenario” if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with a potential evacuation of civilians and military offensive in the area bordering Egypt.

Mr Netanyahu ordered the military to come up with a plan for Rafah’s evacuation, but Israel has not announced a timeline.

The Algerian draft resolution also expresses “grave concern over the dire and urgently deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Gaza and reiterates the council’s call for unhindered humanitarian access throughout the territory.

UN officials report a quarter of the 2.3 million population are now facing starvation.

The Security Council has already adopted two resolutions concerning the situation in Gaza, with the US, Israel’s closest ally, abstaining from both.

Its first resolution on November 15 called for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” in Gaza to address the escalating crisis for Palestinian civilians during Israel’s aerial and ground attacks.

On December 22, the council adopted a watered-down resolution calling for immediately speeding aid deliveries to hungry and desperate civilians in Gaza, but without the original plea for an “urgent suspension of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas.

It did call on Israel to create “conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.”

The steps to “sustainable cessation” were not defined, but diplomats said it was the council’s first reference to stopping fighting.]

By Press Association

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