US blocks Gaza ceasefire demand at Security Council for third time

An injured child at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital following an attack in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, 20 February.

Omar Ashtawy APA images

The US vetoed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza on Tuesday. Thirteen states voted in favor of the Algerian initiative while the UK abstained.

It was the third time that Washington exercised its veto at the Security Council in the past four months in order to prolong Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which the International Court of Justice determined in an interim ruling may plausibly constitute a genocide.

That UN tribunal, also known as the World Court, is currently holding oral hearings on the legal consequences of Israel’s prolonged military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The UN General Assembly has voted by a large majority in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza on two occasions. Those adopted resolutions are not legally binding but testify to the overwhelming global support for a ceasefire and the isolation of the US, which is widely viewed as a full partner to the death and destruction in Gaza.

While it vetoed the draft resolution on Tuesday, the US is pushing its own initiative at the Security Council that would link a temporary ceasefire to the release of Israelis and foreign nationals held in Gaza since 7 October.

“Violence and instability”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, argued that a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire would “put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy,” referring to between Israel, the US, Qatar and Egypt aimed at securing the release of the remaining Israelis and foreign nationals held in Gaza since 7 October.

According to Reuters, Washington “plans to allow time for negotiations and will not rush to a vote” on its draft resolution.

In the meantime, the US veto pushes “the situation in Gaza into a more dangerous one,” China’s ambassador said on Tuesday, accusing Washington of stifling an overwhelming consensus at the Security Council.

The longer the hostilities are prolonged in Gaza, the UN secretary-general has warned, the greater the risk that the wider region will become engulfed in war.

“The wrong decisions today will have a cost on our region and our world tomorrow,” Algeria’s ambassador to the UN said following Tuesday’s vote.

“And this cost will be violence and instability,” he added.

It will also cost additional lives, with the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza on Tuesday reporting 29,195 fatalities since 7 October – more than 100 in the past 24 hours alone – and more than 67,000 injuries. Thousands more are missing and feared dead under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

Palestinians in Gaza are also succumbing to disease and hunger resulting from Israel’s total siege on the territory and the destruction of health and sanitation infrastructure. One in six children under the age of two in Gaza’s north are acutely malnourished, according to a recent study, and “the situation is likely to be even graver today,” three UN agencies said on Monday.

A report by independent researchers in the US and UK projects that even if hostilities ended now, there would be some 8,000 excess deaths in Gaza over the next six months due to traumatic injuries, malnutrition, infectious disease and lack of access to medical care.

US warns against Rafah offensive

The counter-resolution circulated by the US on Monday condemns the 7 October raid by Hamas and emphasizes its designation as a terrorist organization by “numerous member states.”

The US draft resolution also states that “a major ground offensive into Rafah” would harm and displace civilians, “including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security.”

The text “underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

US President Joe Biden phoned Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, twice in recent days “to warn him against launching a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of civilians,” according to Reuters.

The Biden administration has said that despite its professed opposition to an incursion into Rafah, where more than one million displaced Palestinians are now concentrated, it says that it would not impose any material consequences on Israel if it moves forward.


Israel is planning to continue its high-intensity war in Gaza for another six to eight weeks, officials told Reuters, after which it would “shift to a lower-intensity phase of targeted airstrikes and special forces operations.”

Indicating that Israel’s planning isn’t as cohesive as was suggested by Reuters, Benny Gantz, the opposition leader and member of Israel’s war cabinet, said on Sunday that fighting will begin in Rafah in a few weeks if “the hostages are not home.”

He added that “Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, release the hostages and the civilians of Gaza can celebrate the feast of Ramadan.”

Netanyahu, keen to prolong the military offensive, said on Tuesday that “we are not willing to pay any price” to secure the release of the some 130 remaining captives in Gaza, most of whom are believed to still be alive.

The Israeli prime minister’s statement on Tuesday echoed comments made by Bezalel Smotrich, the far-right finance minister, prioritizing destroying Hamas over bringing back the captives.

Earlier this month, Netanyhau rejected a proposal offered by Hamas for a prisoner exchange and months-long truce, calling it “delusional” and vowing “total victory” in Gaza.


Netanyahu quitting the talks provoked renewed protests by the family members of people still held captive in Gaza, who have blocked highways and lit fires as they demand the return of their loved ones while they are still alive.

During a week-long truce in late November, more than 100 captives were freed in exchange for dozens of Palestinian women and children held by Israel.

Last week, two Israeli-Argentine men who the Israeli military claimed to have rescued in a raid in Gaza days earlier urged Netanyahu to reach another agreement with Hamas, saying not everyone could be brought back “in heroic operations.”

“Only through a deal can they be returned,” they said in a joint statement along with other family members who were released in November.

Last week, Abu Obeida, the spokesperson for the armed wing of Hamas, said that there have been many losses of its captives and those who remain alive are in “extremely difficult conditions.”

Qatar said on Tuesday that Hamas confirmed that it had received and begun delivering medicines for the captives under a deal brokered by the Gulf monarchy and France.

Qatar’s foreign minister said that the agreement “includes the entry of the medicines and shipment of humanitarian aid to civilians in the Gaza Strip, especially in the most affected and damaged areas.”

On Saturday, Israel also saw its largest anti-government protests since 7 October.

Whether the mounting pressure will halt Israel’s momentum towards a catastrophic invasion of Rafah remains to be seen.

Al Mezan, a Palestinian human rights group based in Gaza, said that “mere statements won’t stop the invasion of Rafah,” which even Biden administration spokespersons have acknowledged would be a “disaster.”

“What’s needed are concrete actions: States must halt military support to Israel, impose sanctions per international law” and the International Criminal Court “must issue arrest warrants for all members of the Israeli war cabinet,” Al Mezan stated.




Russia, Brazil, UAE, it the 3rd time or the 4th time? I'm just going on what a different media outlet reported...


El Estado sionista (Israel) y los que lo apoyan se han convertido en los nuevos nazis. Están dejando el Holocausto en una "broma de mal gusto" porque lo están utilizando miserablemente para justificar apartheid, limpieza étnica, robo y GENOCIDIO con el pueblo palestino. Apoyado por el país más terrorista de la tierra, EE.UU, lo dice Noam Chomsky. Con una U.E. servil, una Gran Bretaña cobarde, como siempre ( lo que diga el amo) No hay solución mientras estos criminales sean castigados. Sólo la ciudadanía puede conseguirlo. No al Genocidio. Viva Palestina Libre.


Revolting. The straw that broke the camel's back for me. Pure disregard for their colleagues on the Council, for the UN, and the people losing their lives and loved ones, starving, terrified, totally without hope or understanding of how the killing and depraved actions of the army can be allowed to continue. They got their way. I think they will regret it bitterly.


Linda Thomas-Greenfield is either not up on propriety of her words. Her comments to the press afterwards said that Israeli will not cease fire until there is time for a "FINAL SOLUTION". How deaf and blind she and those in charge of our country are. How ignorant or perhaps the very truth. We all know what the final solution was.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.