Creating new perspectives since 2009

The ramifications of the US veto of the Gaza ceasefire resolution

February 27, 2024 at 6:00 pm

Smoke rises from Az-Zeitoun district as Israeli attacks continue in Gaza City, Gaza on February 26, 2024 [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

Amidst the distressing images of civilian casualties and Israeli aggression escalating in Gaza, the US once again vetoed a resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Rather than advocating for a truce, the US again used its power to protect Israel, rejecting a move that could have saved many innocent lives.

Zhang Jun, China’s envoy to the UN, expressed “strong disappointment and dissatisfaction” with the US stance. “The US veto sends a wrong message, pushing the situation in Gaza into a more dangerous one,” he said. The objection to a ceasefire in Gaza is “nothing different from giving the green light to the continued slaughter.” Similarly, France’s UN representative, Nicolas de Riviere, expressed disappointment that the resolution couldn’t be approved, given the dire situation in Gaza. Likewise, Norway’s UN mission conveyed regret over the Security Council’s inability to adopt a resolution for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire, adding that, “It is imperative to end the horror in Gaza.”

The draft resolution, presented by Algeria on behalf of Arab states, gathered overwhelming support from 13 of 15 Security Council members, with only the US voting against it and the UK abstaining. As the death toll reaches 30,000, including 12,300 children, many thousands are missing, and over two million people face famine. The US decision to prioritise “negotiations” over urgent calls for a ceasefire to stop the bloodshed raises questions about diplomatic priorities and the human cost of inaction. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield insisted that it’s not the right time to push for an immediate ceasefire as negotiations between Hamas and Israel are underway.

At this time, so-called “diplomacy” has no value amid escalating tensions and rising civilian casualties.

The US could have acted as a responsible power by calling for a ceasefire, but instead it kept to its script as a state with double standards on human rights. This use of the veto has ignited global debate and raised serious questions regarding Washington’s motivations. Furthermore, this wasn’t an isolated act; it will have a broader impact on the wider region and will prolong the ongoing aggression against Gaza.

READ: African Union says international community has failed Palestinian people

“And yet again… when the US could do the right thing: protect Palestinians against serious risks of genocide; respect international law and universality; prevent massive killings and sufferings – it chose the opposite path,” said the director of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard.

The US has been repeating the mantra of Israel’s purported “right” to “self-defence” since 7 October. By not holding Israel to account for anything at all, doubts are being cast on US motivations and intentions in escalating tension in the Middle East. For the past few months, Washington has not taken any tangible measures against Israel, such as reconsidering military aid to the apartheid state. Moreover, the US has historically shielded its allies from UN sanctions and actions, especially Israel; the latest veto reflects this. Washington plays a significant role by supporting Israel, serving as its primary source of military aid with annual support of $3.8 billion plus many billions in “emergency” aid. Successive US administrations have defended Israel on the global stage consistently over the decades, particularly at the UN Security Council, where it frequently exercises its veto power to block any resolutions critical of the occupation state.

READ: Provisional measures ordered by top UN Court ‘must be implemented’ by Israel: Turkiye deputy FM

It is important to note that the impact of the US veto is not confined to diplomatic circles; it has ramifications on the ground in Gaza.

Many innocent children have been killed since the US blocked a ceasefire.

The Israeli military has already initiated air raids on Rafah, and a ground offensive seems imminent. Moreover, Israel is reportedly considering an “evacuation plan” for civilians in unspecified parts of the Gaza Strip as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allows an “inevitable” assault on the city on the border with Egypt. As presented by the Israeli war cabinet, the “plan for evacuating the population from the areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip” and “the upcoming operational plan” have been discussed.

Approximately 1.4 million Palestinians have sought shelter in Rafah after escaping deadly attacks across the Gaza Strip. A ground invasion raises the risk of tens of thousands of Palestinians being pushed across the border into Egypt, creating a humanitarian disaster. Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, emphasised the disastrous implications of this displacement for Palestinians and the stability of the Middle East. Moreover, Rafah is the primary entry point for humanitarian aid, and an invasion would be catastrophic from that perspective.

Many countries have voiced strong condemnation of the US veto, which shows the growing impatience of the international community regarding a ceasefire in Gaza. The world has urged repeatedly for responsible and meaningful action to stop the war in Gaza, emphasising long-lasting solutions. There are a couple of things the international community needs to prioritise, though: The Security Council should fulfil its moral obligations and legal responsibilities; and a constant demand should be put forward for a comprehensive ceasefire, humanitarian access and the rejection of the forced displacement of the Palestinians.

OPINION: Netanyahu’s last battle promises no victory, just slaughter in Rafah

In conclusion, it is obvious that the US veto contributes to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It raises questions about the impact of empty words and the absence of concrete measures. It’s time to act according to the urgency of the situation, which demands a re-evaluation of diplomatic strategies, a reconsideration of military aid to Israel, and a persistent international effort to bring about a lasting ceasefire in Gaza.

Mariam Shah is an independent researcher and a PhD scholar of Peace and Conflict Studies.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.