The United States has vetoed a United Nations Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza.
Thirteen Security Council members voted in favour of a brief draft resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates on Friday, while the United Kingdom abstained.
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The vote came after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a rare move on Wednesday to formally warn the 15-member council of a global threat from the two-month-long war.
“While the US strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israel and Palestine can live in peace and security, we do not support calls for an immediate ceasefire. This would only plant the seeds for the next war, because Hamas has no desire to see a durable peace, to see a two-state solution,” said Robert Wood, deputy US ambassador to the UN.
The US and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas in a deadly October 7 attack on Israel.
A seven-day pause – that saw Hamas release some hostages and an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza – ended on December 1.
After several failed attempts to take action, the Security Council last month called for pauses in fighting to allow aid access to Gaza, which Guterres on Friday described as a “spiralling humanitarian nightmare”.
The US favours its own diplomacy, rather than Security Council action, to win the release of more hostages and press Israel to better protect civilians in its assault on Gaza, which it launched after the Hamas attack that Israel says killed 1,200 people. Gaza’s Health Ministry says more than 17,480 people have been killed in the Israeli assault.
The vote came after Guterres deployed rarely-used Article 99 of the UN Charter to bring to the council’s attention “any matter which, in his opinion, may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.
Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays said that Guterres’s invocation of Article 99 of the UN charter was extremely rare.
“He [Guterres] has not done it before. In fact, formally invoking this hasn’t happened since 1989,” said Bays, adding that it wasn’t invoked in Syria, Yemen or Ukraine.
Dozens killed in Israeli attacks
Israel has bombarded Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground offensive. Vast areas of the territory have been reduced to a wasteland. The UN says about 80 percent of the population has been displaced, facing shortages of food, fuel, water and medicine, along with the threat of disease.
“There is no effective protection of civilians,” Guterres told the council earlier on Friday. “The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival. But nowhere in Gaza is safe.”
In Washington, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told reporters earlier on Friday that if the Security Council failed to adopt the resolution, “it is giving Israel a license to continue with its massacre of Palestinians in Gaza”.
In Gaza, the Health Ministry reported on Friday that 40 people were killed in Israeli attacks near Gaza City, and “dozens” of others were killed in Jabalia and Khan Younis.
The Israeli military told residents of the Jabalia, Shujayea and Zeitoun districts of Gaza City to move west.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot dead six Palestinians on Friday, the territory’s Health Ministry said.