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21 Feb, 2024 02:44

US blocks third Gaza ceasefire push at UN

Washington has instead called for a temporary “pause” to fighting in the Palestinian enclave
US blocks third Gaza ceasefire push at UN

The United States has vetoed a UN Security Council measure calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, casting the lone ‘no’ vote on a draft that garnered support from most other members. Washington had used its veto power to block two prior attempts, arguing the move would not produce a “durable peace.”

The call for an immediate humanitarian truce was shot down by the US delegation on Tuesday. While 13 nations in the 15-member Security Council favored the Algerian-drafted resolution, Washington was the sole country to vote no, while Britain abstained.

”Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about a durable peace. Instead, it could extend the fighting between Hamas and Israel,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council before the vote.

Last weekend, Thomas-Greenfield signaled that the US would oppose the new ceasefire effort, arguing that it could undermine negotiations between the warring parties, aimed at achieving a temporary pause in the fighting and the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas.

While the latest draft resolution did not directly tie a ceasefire to the fate of the hostages, it separately called for the unconditional release of those captured by Palestinian militants during Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack on Israel.

Algeria’s UN envoy Amar Bendjama said backing the measure amounted to “support to the Palestinians right to life,” while opposing it would imply “an endorsement of the brutal violence and collective punishment inflicted upon them.”

The Palestinian UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour, slammed the US over its vote, saying “The message given today to Israel with this veto is that it can continue to get away with murder.”

Though Washington has barred three separate ceasefire attempts at the Security Council, it has floated its own draft resolution proposing a shorter “pause” to the conflict to allow time for negotiations, and for aid to reach the besieged Palestinian enclave. The rival resolution also urges Israel to refrain from a ground attack on Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have gathered amid Israel’s months-long assault.

The US-sponsored draft would “underscore its support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released, and calls for lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale,” the text of the measure says.

According to local health officials, nearly 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military operation, which was launched in response to Hamas’ terrorist attack late last year. Around 1,200 people were killed in the surprise assault, while Palestinian militants took more than 250 hostages back to Gaza. Dozens of hostages have since been freed, mostly through prisoner exchanges during a weeklong ceasefire in November 2023.