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US vetoes Algerian resolution demanding immediate ceasefire in Gaza

12:22 PM

The latest Council meeting on the Middle East crisis spiralling outwards from the war in Gaza has ended, with another US veto and an abstention on the part of the UK, while Algeria’s resolution gained support from 13 out of the 15 members around the iconic horseshoe table.

Here are the key points:

HIGHLIGHTS

  • US uses veto power to quash Algeria’s draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and presents rival text that would condemn Hamas but also support a temporary ceasefire
  • The US is expected to circulate its own draft later on Tuesday but news reports suggest negotiations will be far from easy, with both Russia and China voicing strong opposition to the third use of a veto by the US on ceasefire resolutions
  • Council members lament continued suffering in Gaza and lambast possible Israeli military operation into Rafah
  • Algeria’s ambassador says it will continue to “knock at the Council’s door” to maximize pressure on Israel and Hamas for a ceasefire which will end the bloodshed
  • “This veto does not absolve Israel of its obligations,” says the ambassador for the observer State of Palestine
  • A ceasefire would be “a death sentence”, for Israelis and ordinary Gazans alike, says Israel’s ambassador
  • Qatar’s ambassador, speaking for the Gulf Cooperation Council, says her delegation will continue its facilitating efforts to free all hostages, protect civilians and secure a ceasefire
  • For full summaries of this and other UN meetings, visit our colleagues at UN Meetings Coverage in English and French

    Families displaced by the conflict in Gaza are receiving food assistance from the UN.
    © WFP/Ali Jadallah

    Families displaced by the conflict in Gaza are receiving food assistance from the UN.

12:02 PM

Qatar: Gaza is ‘worst humanitarian disaster the world has seen’

Qatar’s Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, called on the UN to assume its responsibilities and condemn the Israeli threat of unleashing its military operation in Rafah. 

Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani of Qatar addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani of Qatar addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

More than a million displaced are sheltering there with nowhere else to run to.

“We are living the worst humanitarian disaster the world has ever seen,” she said.

“We also condemn the forced displacement of civilians and regret the suspension of the financing of UNRWA,” she said.

For its part, Qatar will continue its facilitating efforts to free all hostages, to protect civilians in Gaza and to secure a ceasefire.

“We regret the failure of Security Council to adopt the resolution submitted by Algeria,” she said.

11:49 AM

Ceasefire would be a ‘death sentence’: Israel

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan said the Council has repeatedly met on the same flawed theme: the demand for a ceasefire. 

This “silver bullet” would only achieve the survival of Hamas, he said, and be a “death sentence” for Israelis and Gazans. Hamas will continue to spill the blood of innocents. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rightly rejected South Africa’s attempt to implement a ceasefire.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Israel addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Israel addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

“A ceasefire is the epitome of a kick the can down the road” approach which will provide nothing but immunity for baby killers and rapists, allowing Hamas to regroup and re-arm, he said.

‘Condemn Hamas as a Council’

Recalling footage of a family taken to Gaza alive as hostages, he asked why the Council would want to leave them in the enclave. The draft resolution, if adopted, would have ensured that this family and more than 100 other people remained in captivity.

Ambassador Erdan said not once since 7 October has the Council condemned Hamas.

“Condemn Hamas as a Council; do it for the sake of the hostages,” he said.

At the same time, “the clock is ticking” with regards to Lebanon, he continued, recalling that a Hezbollah drone was downed deep inside Israel. Nearly 100,000 Israeli residents in the north have been displaced, with the help of Iran. The Houthis are relentlessly attacking ships in the Red Sea, and “terrorist aggression” across the region must stop, he argued.

11:34 AM

‘Deplorable consequence of inaction’: Palestine

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Riyad H. Mansour, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said the Algerian-led draft resolution was brought to the Council “precisely” because Israel persists with its onslaught “despite near unanimous” calls by the international community for a ceasefire.

He recalled the ICJ provisional measures ordering Israel to cease all acts of genocide, incitement of genocide and ensure humanitarian access to the Palestinian people, who are facing death, starvation and repeated forced displacement “every day” across Gaza.

“It has been nearly three weeks since I last addressed the Council following the court’s order, appealing for action to be taken to ensure the implementation of the provisional measures and ensure a ceasefire that would protect the Palestinian people and avert further ravaging of their lives by the Israeli onslaught,” he said.

“But, our appeals have, regrettably, been to no avail,” he added, noting that since that day, the toll has risen from 26,000 Palestinians killed to almost 30,000 – with more than 69,000 injured.

“This means that in just the past 20 days alone, Israel has killed nearly 4,000 more Palestinian children, women and men, in just 20 days. This is a deplorable consequence of inaction,” he stated.

‘Life a living hell’

Mr. Mansour said that Palestine together with an “unprecedented” number of countries approached the ICJ to “confront the Israeli impunity that has made life a living hell for Palestinian people”.

Together, they appealed for “an immediate and complete end to this illegal colonial occupation and apartheid regime, the root cause of all the ills our people are suffering, including this genocidal war”, he said, noting that the ICJ acted swiftly both on the case brought forward by South Africa and the request for an advisory opinion by the General Assembly.

He questioned when the Security Council would “finally undertake its solemn duties” and act to demand the ceasefire that the vast majority of the world wants to see.

“The veto of this draft resolution is not only regrettable … but also absolutely reckless and dangerous, again shielding Israel even after it commits the most shocking crimes while exposing millions of innocent Palestinian people to more untold horrors,” he said.

11:20 AM

‘We will never tire, and we will never stop’: Algeria

Algerian Ambassador Benjama said the draft calls for a ceasefire, but the Council has failed once again to rise to the calls and aspirations of the people of the world.

This failure does not absolve the Council of its mandate and the international community of its obligations, he said.

Ambassador Amar Bendjama of Algeria addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Ambassador Amar Bendjama of Algeria addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

“It is high time for the aggression to end” and for humanitarian assistance to reach all those in need across Gaza, he said.

The current situation requires everyone to provide protection to the Palestinian people and put an end to the historic injustice they have suffered, he declared.

The people of his region have always looked to the Security Council, however, it has failed them once again.

“Our message for you today is that the international community should respond to the calls for ending the killing of Palestinians by calling for an immediate ceasefire,” he said. 

“All those impeding such calls should review their policies and calculations because wrong decisions today will have a cost on our region and our world tomorrow. This cost will be violence and instability.”

Knocking on the door

Algeria will return tomorrow on behalf of the Arab world, of Muslim countries and the free people of the world, “powered by the souls of thousands of innocent people” killed by the Israeli occupation with no accountability whatsoever, he said.

“Algeria will return to knock on the doors of the Security Council once again to put an end to the bloodshed,” he said. “We will not stop until this Council shoulders its responsibility in full and imposes an immediate ceasefire. We will never tire, and we will never stop.”

11:15 AM

‘Not in the mood to give up’: Russia

Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia of the Russian Federation addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia of the Russian Federation addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Russian Ambassador Nebenzia said “today, we have witnessed another black page in the history of the Security Council”.

It was again written by the US delegation, he continued, which pursues the same goal – to cover up on behalf of its closest Middle Eastern ally and play for time so that it can complete its “inhumane plans” for Gaza, namely to squeeze the Palestinians out of the Strip and completely “cleanse” the enclave.

Full responsibility for the consequences falls on Washington, no matter how hard the US tries to evade it by talking about its “important mediation efforts”, he said.

No matter how bitter the “aftertaste” of today’s vote may be, “we are not in the mood to give up”, he said, adding that the Council’s demand to the parties for an immediate ceasefire remains an imperative.

11:07 AM

Sierra Leone: Council is mandated to act

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador Michal Imran Kanu said his delegation voted in favour of the draft because it is imperative to have an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and the Council is mandated to act promptly and effectively.

Some Council members had visited both the Rafah crossing and Israel, and the assessment has been that only such a ceasefire will put an end to the unbearable killings going on inside Gaza and certainly the “looming and unthinkable catastrophe” in Rafah.

11:02 AM

UK calls for ‘immediate suspension’ of fighting

UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward called for an “immediate suspension in fighting” which can lead to a permanent sustainable ceasefire, saying Palestinian civilians are facing a “devastating humanitarian crisis”.

Ambassador Barbara Woodward of the United Kingdom addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Ambassador Barbara Woodward of the United Kingdom addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

She said there needed to be a new government for Gaza and the West Bank alongside the removal of Hamas´s capacity to launch attacks against Israel. 

Hamas should no longer be in charge in Gaza and a credible political horizon should be opened to pave the way to a lasting two-State solution. 

“Simply calling for a ceasefire, as this resolution does, will not make it happen.”

She said as it could endanger hostage negotiations and could actually make a permanent ceasefire less likely. The way to stop the fighting is through the release of all hostages. 

She said the UK would continue to work for a humanitarian response “at scale”.

10:56 AM

Council must speak out on Hamas attacks: Japan

Ambassador Yamazaki Kazuyuki of Japan addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Ambassador Yamazaki Kazuyuki of Japan addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Japanese Ambassador Kazuyuki Yamazaki said “a humanitarian ceasefire needs to be realized promptly in such a way as to ensure a conducive environment for sufficient humanitarian assistance activities as well as to lead to the release of the remaining hostages.”

Only then could there be a sustainable ceasefire.

“Based on this position, we call on all the parties concerned to act immediately from a humanitarian viewpoint,” he said.

In efforts to ensure a more fair and balanced text, the resolution should have included a condemnation of Hamas’s terrorist attacks, which the Security Council has so far failed to do.

“Though we couldn’t agree on a resolution which all the Council members can support, we are all engaging seriously to stop the violence,” he said. 

10:50 AM

Mozambique urges Council to achieve peace

The Ambassador of Mozambique, Pedro Comissário, said parties must comply with international humanitarian law, including in protecting civilians.

“We call for full compliance with the provisional measures of the International Court of Justice and firmly oppose the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, especially women and children,” he said.

“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and urge the international community and the Security Council to continue working tirelessly together towards achieving peace in the region based on a two-State solution,” he added.

10:45 AM

France: Council must act without further delay

Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière of France addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière of France addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Nicholas de Rivière, the Ambassador of France, regretted to note that the draft resolution could not be adopted, given the catastrophic situation on the ground.

“There is an extreme urgency to conclude, without further delay, an agreement on a ceasefire which finally guarantees the protection of all civilians and the massive entry of emergency aid,” he said.

“The human toll and humanitarian situation in Gaza are intolerable, and Israeli operations must end,” he stressed.

It is also incomprehensible and unacceptable that this Council has still not condemned the terrorist acts committed by Hamas and other terrorist groups on 7 October, he said, as well as the sexual violence used as weapons of war by these terrorists.

“We strongly deplore this and call for the Council to quickly emerge from this culpable ambiguity,” he said.

10:40 AM

China: Veto sends wrong message

Ambassador Zhang Jun of China addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Ambassador Zhang Jun of China addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said the use of the veto by the US sends the wrong message, pushing Gaza further into crisis at a time when Palestinians are struggling on the brink of death.

It is totally untenable of the US to argue that the draft jeopardizes ongoing talks. Meanwhile, the violence is destabilizing the entire region, and the Council must act quickly to stop the carnage, he said.

The Council must uphold international order and demand a ceasefire, which is its legal responsibility. The Council must not stop its work because of the veto, he said, calling on the international community to give Palestinians a chance to live and to provide justice.

10:35 AM

Speaking after the vote, US Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said her delegation is willing to engage constructively with Council members on her delegation’s draft resolution.

10:33 AM

Resolution vetoed by US

The resolution has failed to be adopted due to a veto by the United States.

The voting was 13 in favour, 1 abstention (the UK) with the US voting against.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States votes against the draft resolution in the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States votes against the draft resolution in the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

10:27 AM

Russia: US is giving Israel ‘a license to kill’

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Washington continues to provide Israel with “a license to kill”. Algeria organized discussions in good faith to produce its draft resolution, but the US in effect issued an ultimatum, asserting that the draft was dangerous as it would obstruct ongoing talks.

Indeed, Washington continues to insist the Council not interfere in the US plans, he said. The US has vetoed similar draft resolutions in the past.

“We call on the Council membership to counter the lawlessness of Washington,” he said. “Public opinion will no longer forgive the Security Council for inaction.”

10:20 AM

US offers alternative draft resolution

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said her delegation is working on a hostage deal. Although gaps remain, the key elements are on the table, so if an arrangement were reached, it would involve a sustainable peace.

“Sometimes hard diplomacy takes more time than any of us might like,” she said. “Any action this Council takes should help and not hinder these sensitive ongoing negotiations.”

This draft will not bring about a durable peace, but instead extend the hostages’ captivity and the humanitarian crisis.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

“While numerous parties engage in sensitive negotiations, this is not the time for this resolution, which jeopardizes these efforts,” she said, adding that numerous edits her delegation suggested were ignored.

That’s why the US is proposing a separate resolution that would work towards a temporary ceasefire based on the formula that all hostages are released. It is time this Council condemns Hamas, she said.

Should the US draft be adopted, it would be the first time the Council condemned Hamas, as well as called against any forced displacement of Gazans and that a major ground offensive in the enclave would not proceed.

The draft would also reiterate the US vision of a two-State solution and would support both the ongoing negotiations and lay the groundwork for peace in the region, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said.

“We’re at a pivotal and critical moment,” she said, citing ongoing suffering and rising humanitarian needs. “Let us commit to do this the right way at the right time.”

Following the Council meeting, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield went to the stakeout to flesh out the US position on its new draft resolution. “We intend to do this the right way so that we can create the right conditions for a safer, more peaceful future”, she told journalists, promising to actively engage in the hard work of direct diplomacy:.

You can watch her full remarks here:

10:15 AM

This draft stands for truth, Mr. Benjama said.

“A positive vote for the draft brings hope for hundreds of thousands of children to return to school and enjoy the right to education. Conversely, voting against the draft resolution is a vote in favour of annihilating their dream for a better life.”

The international community must act swiftly, as the value of a ceasefire diminishes with each moment, he stated.

“We are rapidly approaching a critical juncture where the call to halt the machinery of violence will lose its significance,” he said. “Today, every Palestinian is a target for death, extermination and genocide. Each one of us decides on where to stand in this tragic chapter of history.”

10:07 AM

Time for action and truth: Algeria

Ambassador Amar Bendjama of Algeria addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo

Ambassador Amar Bendjama of Algeria addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

The Permanent Representative from Guyana is presiding. Her country holds the presidency for the month.

Amar Benjama, Algeria’s Ambassador, is introducing his country’s resolution, saying it was a product of extensive discussions.

He said the Council “cannot afford passivity” in the face of what is unfolding in Gaza, adding that it must follow its mandate and demand an immediate ceasefire.

“Throughout this process we have heard calls to give time to a parallel track, with concerns raised that any action from the Council would jeopardize these efforts, however, almost one month after the ICJ orders, signs of hope are still absent for improvement on the situation in Gaza. Silence is not a viable option. Now is the time for action and the time for truth,” he said.

09:30 AM: Tabled by Algeria, the draft resolution would also have the Council reiterate its demand that all parties scrupulously comply with their obligations under international law regarding the protection of civilians.

Threat of veto looms 

The Council needs at least nine votes to be able to adopt the draft resolution.

Media reports indicate that the United States may veto it, as it has publicly said it would referring to earlier drafts during this weeks-long negotiating process.

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The term “ceasefire” has been contentious, with the US having vetoed a previous draft resolution late last year tabled by the United Arab Emirates.

If this happens again today, the General Assembly would again organize an emergency special session through a mechanism set up following an initiative by Liechtenstein to examine the use of veto, which is a privilege of the Council’s five permanent members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

Algeria’s draft on the table today would have the Council reject the “forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population in violation of international law and would demand an immediate end to any such violations and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages”. It would, among other things, call for unfettered humanitarian access into and throughout Gaza.

The Council has held more than a dozen meetings on the war in Gaza, including an open debate in late January, with more than 70 UN Member States voicing serious concerns about the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.

Many called on the Security Council to “work harder” to end the war, which began in October when Israeli invaded the enclave in response to Hamas’s attacks that left 1,200 dead and 240 taken hostage. To date, almost 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to local health authorities.

The US has reportedly circulated a rival resolution that would for the first time, support a temporary ceasefire in Gaza. It calls for a halt to the fighting “as soon as practicable” and requires the release of all hostages seized by Palestinian militants during the 7 October terror attacks in southern Israel, according to news reports.

Here are some highlights from the previous Council meeting focused on Gaza on 23 January:

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Israel’s “clear and repeated rejection” of the two-State solution “is unacceptable”, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, adding that “this refusal, and the denial of the right to statehood to the Palestinian people, would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security.”
  • Council members roundly called for the two-State solution to be realized and for an end to the war, with many calling for an immediate ceasefire to end the suffering of Palestinians and allow the aid they urgently need to be delivered unhindered
  • Many speakers from the wider UN membership echoed those calls
  • “Stop this massacre,” said the Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan
  • “We are running out of time. There are two choices: a spreading fire or a ceasefire,” said the Foreign Affairs Minister for the Observer State of Palestine
  • Israel’s Ambassador said if the Council continues to provide aid to Gaza without considering the Iranian threat, the world faces “a very dark future”

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