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US vetoes Security Council call for ‘humanitarian pause’ in Israel-Hamas war

The United States has vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council which called for a humanitarian pause in besieged Gaza – sparking more criticism of political paralysis in the powerful global body.

The brief draft resolution, proposed by Brazil, condemned the October 7 terror attacks in Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas, which killed over 1,400 people, and urged the release of hostages taken.

It also called on all parties to comply with international law and protect civilian lives in Hamas-controlled Gaza amid a ferocious retaliation by Israeli warplanes. The international community should engineer “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting to allow for aid delivery, it said.

Twelve of the council’s 15 members approved the draft on Wednesday, with the UK and Russia abstaining, and a US veto.

Speaking after the vote, US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield explained that the US wanted more time to let American on-the-ground diplomacy “play out.” The US had previously delayed voting on the resolution.

Thomas-Greenfield also criticized the text for failing to mention Israel’s right to self-defense – a point later echoed by the British representative Barbara Woodward.

Since the Hamas attacks, Israel has been bombarding Hamas-controlled Gaza with airstrikes. It has also cut off the enclaves’ 2 million people from supplies of basic necessities, including food, water and electricity.

More than 3,000 people have died in the Israeli strikes – including more than 1,000 children and dozens of aid workers – and UN experts are warning of a widespread disaster if water and electricity are not restored.

The US, Egypt, Israel and UN have been negotiating for days over the possible opening of a humanitarian corridor that would bring aid in through the Rafah border crossing, which connects Gaza to Egypt.

In New York, several members of the Security Council expressed disappointment and frustration over the failure of a joint statement on the importance of aid and civilian protection.

“Sadly, very sadly, the council was yet again unable to adopt a resolution on these conflicts. Again, silence and inaction prevailed. To no one’s true long-term interest,” UN Ambassador to Brazil Sergio Franca Danese said following the veto.

The Security Council “missed an opportunity,” French representative Nicolas de Rivière told press after the vote.

“We deeply regret that this text has been rejected,” he said.

“We totally recognize the right of Israel to defend itself. And on the other hand, protecting civilians, granting humanitarian access, calling for the full respect of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions – there is absolutely no contradiction. This is basically what this resolution was doing,” he added.

Speaking to the council, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador Lana Nusseibah said the resolution was not a “perfect text” but that her country had voted for it “because it clearly states basic principles which must be upheld and which this Council is obliged to reinforce and uphold.

She also expressed hope that US diplomatic efforts in the region “help lead us all off this brink that we are edging towards.”

The Security Council is the UN’s most powerful body, but is frequently hampered by the veto power held by each of its five permanent members. Recent draft resolutions have also been stymied by Russian vetoes when it comes to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia last week proposed another resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza that also failed to pass.

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