US vetoes Security Council ceasefire resolution

The Qatar-funded Hamad Town residential complext in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, after it was hit in Israeli strikes on 2 December.

Mohammed Talatene DPA

The Biden administration reaffirmed its commitment to the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza by exercising its veto during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday.

The US vetoed the draft resolution that would have demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the immediate and unconditional release of all captives held in Gaza. Thirteen states voted in favor of the resolution while the UK abstained.

Robert Wood, who represented the US at the UN vote, said that an immediate ceasefire “would only plant the seeds for the next war because Hamas has no desire to see a durable peace. Our goal should not be to stop the war for today but to stop the war forever.”

Mills made no mention of the apparent Israeli military objective of destroying the foundations of life in Gaza in order to foment a mass expulsion of Palestinians from the territory to Egypt.

Amnesty International said that the US veto displays “a callous disregard for civilian suffering in the face of a staggering death toll.”

A coalition of international organizations including Oxfam International and Save the Children International said that they were “appalled” by the failure to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire, saying that it “is unjustifiable that Security Council members would veto a resolution calling for a halt to fighting when the humanitarian case for a ceasefire is so clear.”

Ahead of Friday’s vote, António Guterres had invoked Article 99 of the Security Council, a rarely utilized “panic button” allowing the UN secretary-general to raise “any issue that may aggravate existing threats to the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Guterres warned the Security Council on Friday of “a high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza, which would have devastating consequences.”
He added that “we anticipate that it would result in a complete breakdown of public order and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt” with potentially devastating consequences “for the security of the entire region.”

At least 17,177 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in Israeli attacks and thousands more are reported missing under the rubble since Hamas’ surprise military operation that saw the defeat of the Israeli army’s southern command on 7 October.

Israel says that 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas-led attack that began on 7 October, including 300 members of the military, though evidence is now emerging that an unknown number were killed by Israeli military fire that day.

Washington’s complicity in genocide

Craig Mokhiber, a former senior UN official, said that Washington’s veto on Friday, one day before the 75th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, demonstrates “its further complicity in the genocide in Palestine.”

“Thousands have died since its last veto and more will die now,” he added.

There appears to be little recourse at the UN that would change the political dynamics preventing a desperately needed ceasefire in Gaza so long as it is firmly opposed by the US, which is providing material as well as diplomatic backing to Israel’s campaign of extermination.

The Biden administration asked Congress to approve the sale of 45,000 tank shells to Israel for its use in Gaza, Reuters reported on Friday.

While the sale is under review by the foreign affairs committees in the house and senate, the State Department is pushing for an expedited approval of the transaction.

On Thursday, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, acknowledged in a roundabout way that civilians are being harmed in Gaza.

“It remains imperative that Israel put a premium on civilian protection,” Blinken said. “And there does remain a gap between … the intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground.”

The premise that Israel intends to protect civilians is patently false.

Statements by Israeli political and military leaders demonstrate a genocidal intent, as does the slaughter of civilians in their homes, the destruction or damage of 60 percent of Gaza’s housing stock and military operations rendering Gaza’s medical system largely inoperable.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former ICC chief prosecutor, has said that “the siege of Gaza itself, that is extermination or persecution as a crime against humanity and is a form of genocide.”

UNRWA “on verge of collapse” in Gaza

Humanitarian agencies working on the ground in Gaza raised an unprecedented alarm ahead of the UN Security Council meeting on Friday.

The director of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees and the largest provider of humanitarian aid in the territory, warned that it is “on the verge of collapse” in Gaza.

Philippe Lazzarini said that “without safe shelter and aid, civilians in Gaza risk death or will be forced to Egypt and beyond.”

The head of UNRWA, who said that more than 130 agency employees have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, added that in his 35 years of experience, “I have never written such a letter predicting the killing of my staff and the collapse of the mandate I am expected to fulfill.”

He called on the president of the UN General Assembly to “take immediate action to implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” and to enforce international law and “protect prospects for a political solution that is vital to peace.”

Doctors Without Borders said on Friday that the Security Council’s inaction and vetoes by member states, principally the US, “make them complicit in the ongoing slaughter.”

“This is a total war that doesn’t spare civilians,” the charity added.

This story has been corrected to state that Robert Wood, not Richard Mills, represented the US at the UN Security Council Vote.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.