The 15-nation UN Security Council voted on two rival draft resolutions tabled by Washington and Moscow on the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The first resolution by the US affirmed the right of member states to defend themselves against threats to peace and security posed by acts of terrorism. It called for all measures – specifically humanitarian pauses – to allow for full, rapid, safe, and unhindered access into Gaza, territory ruled by Hamas militants.
The Council’s permanent members Russia and China vetoed the US-led resolution. The UAE also voted against the draft, which received ten votes in favour (Albania, France, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, UK, US) and two abstentions by Brazil and Mozambique.
Before the vote on the resolution, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington has worked to forge consensus around a resolution that is strong and balanced.
“We solicited input. We listened. We engaged with all Council members to incorporate edits, including language on humanitarian pauses and the protection of civilians fleeing conflict, and language on the importance of deconfliction mechanisms to protect UN facilities and personnel.”
After the vote, she expressed disappointment that Russia and China vetoed the resolution and called on the Council members not to encourage Moscow’s “cynical and irresponsible behaviour” by voting for its text, which she said was offered up at the very last minute with zero consultations and which contains a number of problematic sections. The Council then voted on Moscow’s resolution that called for a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered aid into Gaza and the immediate cancellation by Israeli forces of the evacuation order for civilians to head into southern Gaza. The resolution failed to get adopted as it did not get sufficient votes in its favour. Only four countries – China, Gabon, Russia, and the UAE – voted in favour of the resolution while the UK and US vetoed it and nine nations – Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland abstained.
This was the fourth time in over a week that the powerful UN Security Council, responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, failed to adopt a resolution and take unified action in the ongoing conflict that broke out after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.
Last week, the Security Council rejected a draft resolution proposed by Russia while another resolution tabled by Council President Brazil that would have called for humanitarian pauses to allow full access for aid to the Gaza Strip was vetoed by the US.
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said for two weeks now, the Security Council has been unable to articulate a collective message for de-escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict zone.
“That is extremely deplorable. The bloodshed continues, with thousands of civilians dead and injured and more than 1.5 million internally displaced persons,” he said.
Nebenzia said the US draft contains no call for a ceasefire, fails to condemn indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civil facilities in Gaza and does not renounce acts aimed at forced displacement of civilians.
“This document is politicised to the bone. Its only goal is not to save the civilians but to secure United States’ political precepts in the region through “pinning labels”,” the Russian envoy said.
Following the vote on the Russian text, Nebenzia said it was very sad that Council members, fixated on their national agendas, did not have the courage to show strategic wisdom and support the text proposed by Moscow.
UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward voiced regret that the draft resolution proposed by the United States was not adopted.
“The text would have had a real impact on the ground by calling for hostages to be released and for aid to get in, including through humanitarian pauses. Through this resolution, the Security Council would have rightly, and for the first time, unequivocally condemned Hamas’ terrorist attacks.”
She said the UK could not support the resolution proposed by Russia, which once again failed to recognise Israel’s right to self-defence.
“The Russian text was put to a vote without a single minute of consultation with the Council members. It was not a serious attempt to have this Council speak with one voice,” Woodward said.
Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Gilad Erdan said the Council members who have voted against the US-led resolution have shown the world that this “Council is incapable of doing the most basic task of condemning ISIS-like terrorists and cannot confirm the right to self-defence of the victim of these heinous crimes. Israel has been attacked and continues to be attacked” in the south from Hamas and in the north from Hezbollah.
He added that the Russian resolution sought to tie Israel’s hands, “preventing us from eliminating a threat to our existence and permitting the genocidal terrorists to regroup so they can massacre us again.”
Erdan said the Moscow-led resolution asking Israel to rescind the call for temporary evacuation to the south of the strip is absurd and “truly unbelievable.”
“By demanding Israel to call on Gazans to return north, the resolution only serves to maximise civilian casualties, not mitigate them.
“Why would Israel ask Gazans to return to an active war zone? We cherish life and take every measure to minimise civilian casualties. We are not fighting the Palestinians. We are fighting only the Hamas ISIS terrorists. Civilians should never be deliberately put in harm’s way,” he said.