UN Security Council rejects Russian resolution on Gaza

Gaza. Photo Caption: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

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The UN Security Council on Monday night in New York failed to adopt a resolution proposed by Russia that would have called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, which has been ravaged by almost 10 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.

The Russian-led draft resolution received five votes in favour (China, Gabon, Mozambique, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates) and four against (France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States), with six abstentions (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta, and Switzerland).

Members were divided over the lack of specific condemnation of extremist group Hamas, which began the current escalation of violence, sending hundreds of fighters to carry out massacres in settlements near to the Gaza Strip on 7 October.

For the Council to adopt a resolution, the proposal must receive at least nine votes in favour, with none of its five permanent members opposing or casting a veto.

The draft text had called for a humanitarian ceasefire, release of all hostages, aid access, and safe evacuation of civilians.

‘Selfish interest’ of the West

Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN expressed regret over the Security Council’s failure to adopt the resolution, blaming the “selfish intention of the western bloc.”

He said that the Western countries’ delegations “basically stomped” on global hopes for the Council to put an end to violence.

Ambassador Nebenzia noted that the vote revealed countries in support of ending the violence and providing humanitarian aid, and those blocking a unified message “for purely selfish and political interests”.

“We are extremely concerned by the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the very high risk of the conflict spreading,” he said.

Resolution ignores Hamas’ terrorism

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative of the US, said that her country could not support the Russian draft resolution as it ignored Hamas’ terrorism and dishonoured victims.

“By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians. It is outrageous, hypocritical and indefensible,” she said.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield condemned Hamas for killing civilians, taking hostages, including American citizens, and slaughtering families, and that Hamas’ actions led to the dire humanitarian crisis facing the people of Gaza.

“We cannot allow this Council to unfairly shift the blame to Israel and excuse Hamas for its decades of cruelty,” she said.

Be guided by international law

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the Observer State of Palestine to the UN, urged the Security Council to be guided by the principles of international law “with no exception”.

“Do not send the signals that Palestinian lives do not matter. Do not dare say Israel is not responsible for the bombs it is dropping on their heads,” he said.

Mr. Mansour noted that what is happening in Gaza is not a military operation, but a full scale assault against his people and a massacre against innocent civilians.

“Nowhere is safe in Gaza, families embrace every night, not knowing if it is for the last time,” he said.

Council’s most pivotal moment

Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, said that the Security Council stood at one of the most pivotal moments in its history, “a moment of truth, which will tell humanity if its very existence holds legitimacy.”

He said that every Council member should understand that Hamas is driven by an ideology “no different than the Nazis”, made clear in their charter that called for “obliterating” Israel. “Hamas is not a political organization, it is a terror organization,” he said.

Ambassador Erdan called on the Council to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, and to hold it fully and solely accountable for the situation in Gaza.

He also called on the Council to fully support Israel’s right to defend itself, and to immediately and unconditionally demand the release of all hostages.