US Proposed Ceasefire Vetoed in UNSC Vote

What Happened

Yet another ceasefire resolution in the UN Security Council (UNSC) has failed to pass after both Russia and China exercised their veto rights in order to veto the US proposed ceasefire resolution.

Russia and China stated that their reason for the veto was the language which the US resolution used. They said that since the proposal said it was “imperative” for “an immediate and sustained ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides,” it fell short of a proper demand for the end of the war. Additionally, the US sought a ceasefire that was “tied to the release of hostages,” whereas Russia and China have stated they are seeking an unconditional ceasefire, one that is not dependent upon Hamas releasing the hostages which they hold.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, claimed the US was “deliberately misleading the international community,” further adding that it did not genuinely call for a ceasefire as the US was claiming.

China’s ambassador, Zhang Jun, said that the “ambiguous” language of the US proposed resolution “dodged the most central issue, that of a ceasefire,”, and that it didn’t “provide an answer to the question of realising a ceasefire in the short term.”

In turn, the US has accused Russia and China of being “petty” with the veto. The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, stated that “Russia and China simply did not want to vote for a resolution that was penned by the United States, because it would rather see us fail than to see this Council succeed.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Israel meeting with Netanyahu, his war cabinet, and Israeli relatives of hostages still held by Hamas at the time of the vote, stated that the US was “trying to show the international community a sense of urgency about getting a ceasefire tied to the release of hostages. Something that everyone, including the countries that vetoed the resolution, should have been able to get behind.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to media in Tel Aviv on March 22nd, 2024 (Photo from Evelyn Hockstein, Pool Photo via AP).

The vote on the US proposed resolution in the 15 member UNSC received 11 votes in favour, one abstention from Guyana, and three votes against from Russia, China, and Algeria. Notably, Algeria was the one who had proposed the last resolution for an immediate ceasefire at the end of February, which was vetoed by the US.

Negotiations for the hostage deal the US was attempting to tie the ceasefire to are presently ongoing in Doha, Qatar, and are expected to take almost two weeks in total. Although the US has said they remain hopeful an agreement can be reached, there are a number of lines both Israel and Hamas have set that they are unwilling to cross, both of which cross the others.

Within the UN, the elected, non-permanent members of the UNSC are presently working on drafting another resolution which will establish a ceasefire during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in the hopes that it will be “respected by all parties leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire.” Notably, the resolution is also to call for “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” as well as an expansion to the entry of humanitarian aid.

Reportedly this draft resolution is to be voted on Monday, March 25th.

While the resolution calls for the release of hostages, it does not connect it to the ceasefire, and thus it is likely that the US is again going to veto this ceasefire proposal, with Ambassador Greenfield claiming that the resolution would jeopardize ongoing hostage release negotiations in Doha. This is the same reasoning that they vetoed Algeria’s proposed ceasefire at the end of February.

France, a permanent member of the UNSC, has stated that they are beginning to work on their own draft resolution. French President Emmanuel Macron stated that “Following Russia’s and China’s veto a few minutes ago, we are going to resume work on the basis of the French draft resolution in the Security Council and work with our American, European and Arab partners to reach an agreement.”

“for a long time there was American reluctance which has now been lifted. We may be able to convince China and Russia not to put a veto” -President Emmanuel Macron

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Emmanuel Macron meeting in Paris, 2018 (Photo from AFP/Ludovic Marin/File).

It is unclear how exactly the French proposal will differ from the other ceasefire resolution drafts.

Notably, Hamas released a statement in which it thanked Russia, China, and Algeria for voting against the “biased American project of aggression against our people.”

“We express our appreciation for the position of Russia, China and Algeria, who in the Security Council rejected the biased American project of aggression against our people, and stressed the urgent humanitarian demand for an immediate halt to the Zionist war of annihilation that has been ongoing for more than 5 months” -Hamas Statement

Hamas has often linked the US’ actions to that of Israel in it’s rhetoric throughout the war, blaming both of them for the situation within Gaza.

“We Will Do it Alone”

As mentioned, the same day as the Russian and Chinese vetoes of the US resolution, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel. Blinken met with PM Netanyahu on several key issues, however the most prominent of which, was the impending Israeli operation in the Gazan city of Rafah.

Blinken once again reiterated the US’ view that an operation in Rafah would be far too costly, both in civilian casualties as well as for Israel’s standing on the world stage. However, PM Netanyahu has still remained defiant on the matter, being continually insistent upon carrying out an operation in Rafah, with or without the US’ support.

Blinken said that while the US supports Israel’s goal of “destroying” Hamas, that “a major military ground operation in Rafah is not the way to do it,” and that it would be “a mistake.”

“It risks killing more civilians. It risks wreaking greater havoc with the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It risks further isolating Israel around the world and jeopardizing its long-term security and standing” -Secretary of State Antony Blinken

This marked Blinken’s sixth visit to the region since the present war began with Hamas’ initial attack on Israel on October 7th.

In contrast, Netanyahu is claiming that a ground operation in Rafah is the only way to defeat Hamas. He has claimed that Israel has succeeded in “dismantling” 20 of Hamas’ estimated 24 battalions, and that the remaining four are within Rafah. Netanyahu claimed that Israel has a plan to evacuate civilians, however doubts have been raised as to the feasibility of such a plan, namely due to both the amount of civilians as well as the lack of a safe area for them to evacuate to.

“I told him that we recognize the need to evacuate the civilian population for the war zone and of course to take care of humanitarian needs, and we are working on that, but I also told him that we don’t have a way to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah, and eliminating the remaining battalions there. And I told him that I hope that we will do it with America’s support, but if we need, we will do it alone” -Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo from REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool).

The defiance from Netanyahu, and warnings against an operation from the US, represent the largest departure from support that the US has made from Israel since the beginning of the war. Many nations which have typically been aligned towards Israel have waned in their support of Israel in the face of mounting casualties.

As reports of impending famine increase, with around half the population facing “catastrophic levels of hunger,” and the entirety of Gaza’s 2.3 million people facing food insecurity, the US’ support has started to dip as well. The US is pushing harder on a ceasefire, and publicly clashing with Israel on military operations.

Within Rafah currently resides approximately 1.4 million people. The overwhelming majority of those within Rafah are refugees from other areas of Gaza, who had previously been instructed by Israel to evacuate south amidst ongoing military operations in the north. Rafah has remained as the last ‘safe’ area within Gaza, and is meant to be a refuge. If an Israeli operation is carried out there, it is unclear where exactly the civilians there are supposed to evacuate to, with the Egyptian and Israeli borders both being closed, as well as the majority of Gaza both being damaged and also still subject to ongoing military operations.

On top of being a refuge, Rafah has also served as a basing point for humanitarian operations in Gaza. Sitting on the border with Egypt, it has been the primary entry point for aid into Gaza. It is also where the UNRWA is operating a number of their remaining shelters, all of which are overflowing.

Several other nations have warned Israel against an operation in Rafah, echoing the US’ statements that it would be too dangerous.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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