Israel-Hamas war: US vetoes UN Security Council resolution for ceasefire in Gaza
In the 15-member council, 13 members voted in favour of a brief draft resolution, while the UK abstained.
The United States on Friday vetoed a United Nations Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, diplomatically isolating Washington as it shields its ally.
Thirteen members voted in favour of a brief draft resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, while Britain abstained. The vote came after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a rare move on Wednesday to formally warn the 15-member council of a global threat from the two-month-long war.
"What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?" Deputy UAE U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab asked the council.
The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas in a deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
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Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the council that the draft resolution was an imbalanced text "that was divorced from reality, that would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way."
"Although the United States strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support this resolution's call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war," said Wood.
The U.S. had offered substantial amendments to the draft resolution, including a condemnation of the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 that Israel says killed 1,200 people and say 240 people weretaken hostage.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said her country abstained because there was no condemnation of Hamas.
"Israel needs to be able to address the threat posed by Hamas and it needs to do so in a manner that abides by international humanitarian law so that such attack can never be carried out again," she told the council.
The U.S. favors its own diplomacy over Security Council action to win the release of more hostages and press Israel to better protect civilians in Gaza as it retaliates against Hamas.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged on Thursday that there was a "gap" between Israel's intent to protect civilians and what has happened on the ground. Gaza's Health Ministry says more than 17,480 people have been killed.
Israel has bombarded Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground offensive. The vast majority of the Palestinian enclave's 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes.
"There is no effective protection of civilians," Guterres told the council earlier on Friday. "The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival. But nowhere in Gaza is safe."
A seven-day pause - that saw Hamas release some hostages and an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza - ended on Dec. 1.
After several failed attempts to take action, the Security Council last month called for pauses in fighting to allow aid access to Gaza, which Guterres on Friday described as a "spiraling humanitarian nightmare."
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the Security Council earlier on Friday that there was a ceasefire that had been broken by Hamas on Oct. 7.
"The irony is that regional stability and the security of both Israelis and Gazans can only be achieved once Hamas is eliminated, not one minute before," Erdan said. "So the true path to ensure peace is only through supporting Israel's mission - absolutely not to call for a ceasefire."
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Jonathan Landay; editing by Susan Heavey, Frances Kerry, Mark Heinrich, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)