The United States on Wednesday blocked a resolution that would have called for humanitarian pauses in the confrontation between Israel and Palestinian Hamas terrorists to enable humanitarian assistance access to the Gaza Strip was in the UN Security Council.
Due to US efforts to mediate humanitarian access to Gaza, the vote on the document produced by Brazil has been postponed twice in the past several days. Russia and the United Kingdom boycotted from the Wednesday vote, leaving twelve members in favour of the draft text.
“We are on the ground doing the hard work of diplomacy. We believe we need to let that diplomacy play out,” US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the council post the vote.
“Yes, resolutions are important. And yes, this council must speak out. But the actions we take must be informed by the facts on the ground and support direct diplomacy efforts. That can save lives. The council needs to get this right,” she further said.
Washington usually protects Israel, an ally, from any action taken by the Security Council.
“We have just been witnesses once again of hypocrisy and the double standards of our American colleagues,” stated Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the UN. On Monday, a resolution proposed by Russia that demanded a humanitarian truce was not approved.
In order to facilitate the release of captives and the delivery of humanitarian goods to Gaza, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire on Wednesday.
Russia declared that it had now requested that a special emergency session on the situation be called of the 193-member UN General Assembly. It may choose to hold a vote on a draft resolution there, devoid of national veto authority. Resolutions passed by the General Assembly are political in nature but not legally obligatory.
Israel’s right to self-defense
The council was informed by UN peace envoy to the Middle East Tor Wennesland that there is a “very real, and extremely dangerous” prospect of the war spreading.
“I fear that we are at the brink of a deep and dangerous abyss that could change the trajectory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if not of the Middle East as a whole,” said Wennesland, addressing the council via video from Doha.
China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, charged that the US had misled council members into thinking the resolution could pass since it had not voiced any objections during talks. The vote, in his words, was “nothing short of unbelievable.”
Thomas-Greenfield criticised Hamas for the Gaza humanitarian situation and stated that the United States was upset that the draft resolution omitted any reference to Israel’s right to self-defense.
“We’re working with Israel, its neighbors, the United Nations and other partners to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It is critical that food, medicine, water and fuel begin flowing into Gaza as soon as possible,” she said. “Hamas’ own actions have brought this on – this severe humanitarian crisis.”
In order to facilitate the delivery of supplies, international diplomacy has concentrated on attempting to mediate a humanitarian pause in the fighting close to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. Egypt claims that although Rafah has not been declared closed, Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza side have rendered it unusable.