UN Security Council does not pass draft US resolution on Gaza ceasefire


Russia and China veto US proposal that critics say fell short of demanding an end to Israel’s war on Gaza.

The United Nations Security Council has failed to pass a United States draft resolution calling for, but not demanding, a ceasefire in Israel’s continuing war on Gaza after two permanent members chose to veto it.

The draft put before the Council on Friday received 11 votes in favour, three against – from Russia, China and Algeria – and one abstention by Guyana.

Russia and China both exercised their veto against the resolution, which would have spoken of the “imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire” and condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Moscow accused Washington of a “hypocritical spectacle” that does not pressure Israel.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said the draft was exceedingly politicised and contained an “effective green light” for Israel to mount a military operation in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering.

Nebenzia said there was no call for a ceasefire in the resolution’s text and accused the US leadership of “deliberately misleading the international community”.

No ‘demand’ for ceasefire

While the US promoted the measure as calling for a ceasefire, critics pointed out that the draft falls short of demanding an end to the war.

The proposal backs the “imperative” for “an immediate and sustained ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides”, differing from previous draft resolutions vetoed by Washington, which demanded an unconditional ceasefire.

The US draft resolution also ties the ceasefire to the ongoing talks to secure a truce deal that would see the release of Israeli captives in Gaza.

“It says it’s important that there is a ceasefire; it doesn’t seem to be demanding one,” Al Jazeera’s diplomatic correspondent James Bays, who had obtained a copy of the draft resolution, said earlier this week.

“And it’s also linking this ceasefire directly with the release of the remaining captives being held by Hamas and other groups in Gaza.”

After Friday’s vote, US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said Russia had prioritised politics over progress by using its veto, adding that both Russia and China were doing nothing meaningful to advance peace.

Alternative draft resolutions

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.

A day earlier, the US had circulated a rival resolution, which went through major changes during negotiations before this Friday’s vote.

It initially would have supported a temporary ceasefire linked to the release of all hostages, and the previous draft would have supported international efforts for a ceasefire as part of a hostage deal.

On Friday, Algeria’s UN ambassador, Amar Bendjama, said that had the Council passed its February resolution, thousands of innocent lives could have been saved. More than 32,000 Palestinians – mostly women and children – have been killed since the war began last October.

These figures represent lives and “hopes that have been destroyed”, Bendjama said, adding that the US text made no mention of Israel’s responsibility for their deaths.

Meanwhile, the 10 elected members of the Security Council have been drafting their own resolution, which demands that an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for the holy month of Ramadan, which began March 10, 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.

France will also work on a new UN resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.

“Following Russia’s and China’s veto a few minutes ago, we are going to resume work on the basis of the French draft resolution in the Security Council and work with our American, European and Arab partners to reach an agreement,” Macron said at the end of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels.__Al Jazeera