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Russia, China Veto US Resolution at UN for a Gaza Cease-Fire

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By Augusta Saraiva

(Bloomberg News) Russia and China vetoed the strongest move yet by the U.S. to pressure Israel at the United Nations Security Council, saying that a resolution endorsing a cease-fire in Gaza was still too weak. bulletin news

The proposal, which cited “the imperative of an immediate and sustained cease-fire” in Gaza — but didn’t demand one — was the closest the U.S. has come to pressing its ally Israel, which has endorsed only a limited halt in fighting to free hostages held by Hamas.

But the U.S. resolution also included a condemnation of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. Most UN proposals by other nations have left out criticism of Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.

“Gaza has virtually been wiped from the earth and now the U.S. representative without blinking has been asserting that Washington has finally begun to recognize the need for a cease-fire,” Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told the council before voting against the resolution. “This sluggish thought process in Washington has cost the lives of 32,000 Palestinians.”

Although 11 out of 15 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, Russia and China, which wield veto power, blocked its adoption. Algeria also voted against the proposal, and Guyana abstained.

“Let’s be honest: For all the fiery rhetoric, we all know that Russia and China are not doing anything diplomatically to advance a lasting peace or to meaningfully contribute to the humanitarian response,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council.

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The U.S. has long been steadfast in championing Israel at the UN, where other nations have been more focused on demanding Palestinian rights. But the U.S. resolution was significant in open criticism of the civilian toll of Israel’s drive to eliminate Hamas in Gaza and in warning of the risks ahead.

The U.S. resolution emphasized concern that “a ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement.”

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Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun criticized the proposal’s failure to flatly oppose an invasion of Rafah, where more than 1 million people have sought shelter from the fighting. “The draft does not clearly and equivocally state its opposition, which would send a totally wrong signal and lead to severe consequences,” he said after the vote.

Frustration in the West and Arab states has grown with Israeli officials, who have signaled Israel will move ahead with an invasion of the city regardless of whether Washington blesses the decision.

The U.S.-crafted text also condemned calls by some Israeli government ministers for the resettlement of Palestinians, rejecting “any attempt at demographic or territorial change in Gaza,” and endorsed a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

UN Tensions

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A delay in introducing the proposal, which was first circulated a month ago and whose language had largely changed since then, sparked frustration even among U.S. allies, with some suggesting in private conversations that Washington was engaging in filibustering at the Security Council.

“We want all the hostages to be released. No need to repeat that we have been condemning again and again the attack by Hamas,” Nicolas de Riviere, the French envoy to the UN, told reporters Thursday. “But now, it’s time to save lives.”

A separate Mozambique-led text backed by multiple elected members of the Security Council could be put to vote as soon as Friday afternoon. The shorter draft would demand a cease-fire in Gaza during the holy month of Ramadan, which started March 10.

France is working on its own longer-term proposal, which would be introduced as a complement to the Ramadan cease-fire text. French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that the Chinese and Russian vetoes don’t put an end to efforts by Security Council members to reach an agreement on a truce in Gaza.

“We’re going to take the French draft resolution back to the Security Council and work with our American, European and Arab partners to find an agreement,” Macron said, adding that France will work with countries including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates to ensure approval.

With assistance from Ania Nussbaum.

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