Russia, China veto Gaza ceasefire resolution at UN as Blinken meets Israeli leaders

(Evelyn Hockstein/Associated Press)

Russia, China veto Gaza ceasefire resolution at UN as Blinken meets Israeli leaders


Laura King
Tracy Wilkinson

March 22, 2024

Russia and China on Friday vetoed a US-backed resolution calling for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, a reversal from previous US vetoes over measures aimed at ending to nearly six months of fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas. .

The vote came as Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was in the middle of his last mission to the region since war broke out following a Hamas-led attack on Israel in October.

The diplomatic steps come at a tense time. The Biden administration is increasingly combative with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the conduct of Israel’s offensive, which has killed at least 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to Gaza health officials.

The Security Council resolution, which called for an immediate cessation of fighting, was aimed at facilitating urgently needed deliveries of humanitarian aid to Gaza, where international groups have warned of a looming famine in the northern part of the narrow enclave on the border. Mediterranean.

Nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been driven from their homes and large parts of the territory have been razed by heavy Israeli bombardment. Disease and hunger are rampant.

But the US-backed effort failed due to Russia’s accusations that the US, Israel’s closest ally, misled the international community through the wording in the resolution. The wording, which emphasized the need for a ceasefire, also supported diplomatic efforts to secure the freedom of the remaining hostages among the approximately 250 people captured during the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on 1 October. 7 that killed at least 1,200 people.

In Tel Aviv, Blinken spoke for more than two hours on Friday with Netanyahu, who expressed deep dismay over depictions of him as an obstacle to peace in a speech a week ago by the top Jewish elected official in the United States. , Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader of the Senate. Biden said he liked the speech.

Netanyahu said after his meeting with Blinken that he rejected US calls to drop plans for a ground invasion of Rafah, the southern Gaza city where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering. Israel has been saying for weeks that it will go after Hamas fighters, but there has been a chorus of preemptive international condemnation over the danger to civilians.

Netanyahu stated that there was no way to defeat Hamas without entering Rafah, adding that he informed Blinken that Israel would not be deterred by the US opposition.

I hope we will do this with the support of the United States, the Israeli leader said. But if necessary, we will do it alone.

Blinken reiterated U.S. support for the overarching goal of defeating Hamas, but said the Biden administration believes there are means to do this other than a ground attack on Rafah.

In Gaza, the latest fighting, as always, yielded competing claims. Israel said it had killed or captured hundreds of Hamas militants during a five-day operation in Gaza City’s Shifa hospital complex. Hamas mocked the Israeli story and said its fighters were not present.

At the UN, eleven members of the Security Council supported the US-backed resolution, but the measure failed due to the no votes of two permanent members with veto power, Russia and China. Algeria also voted against and Guyana abstained.

So far, the Biden administration has repeatedly taken action to protect Israel from ceasefire calls at the world body, saying Israel had the right to defend itself after the October attacks. 7 attack. The US also tried to link calls for a ceasefire directly to demands to free the hostages, about 100 of whom are believed to be alive.

More than a hundred people were released during an exchange of hostages and Palestinian prisoners in November.


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