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US vetoes UN immediate ceasefire proposal, sparking anger

US vetoes UN immediate ceasefire proposal, sparking anger

 


The United States on Tuesday vetoed for the third time a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, arguing it would jeopardize ongoing state negotiations. -United for a six-week pause in fighting that would see Hamas free more than 100 remaining Israeli hostages in exchange for imprisoned Palestinians and additional humanitarian aid for civilians.

The resolution, presented by Algeria on behalf of the Arab group of U.N. members, would send the wrong message to Hamas, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, and would actually give them something they have been asking for without asking them to do something in this direction. back.

Instead, Thomas-Greenfield called on Council members to support an alternative U.S. resolution, still in draft form, demanding that Israel, while agreeing to a temporary ceasefire as soon as possible to allow the release of hostages, refrain from a major ground offensive on Rafah and take immediate steps to allow the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to the enclave through additional land and sea entry points.

So far, direct US appeals to Israel on all these points have met with few positive responses, at least in public. President Biden, under pressure at home and abroad to use American influence more effectively, has become increasingly blunt, calling Israeli military tactics overkill, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he would not comply with international demands until total victory over Hamas. is accomplished.

The United States was the only one to oppose the call for an immediate ceasefire and to request a longer negotiation period. Except for Britain, which abstained, the other 15 members of the Council voted in favor of the Algerian resolution, which also demanded the release of all hostages.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, was moved to tears on February 19 during the ICJ hearing on Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. (Video: Reuters)

In speeches both angry and sad, ambassadors from one country after another indicated that they had had enough.

The human toll and humanitarian situation in Gaza are intolerable and Israeli operations must stop, French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said after voting in favor of the resolution.

It is not that the Security Council does not have a major consensus, but rather the exercise of the veto by the United States that has stifled the Council's consensus, Chinese envoy Zhang Jun said.

The veto is a striking example of double standards, said Egyptian Ambassador Osama Mahmoud Abdel Khalek Mahmoud, whose government, along with Qatar and the United States, is participating in hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas. Mahmoud expressed his disappointment and frustration with the US obstruction.

Far from hindering the discussion on the release of the hostages, he said, the vetoed resolution would have created the conditions for its success.

The negotiations themselves, which were initially expected to move forward quickly after a proposed framework was presented to Israel and Hamas nearly three weeks ago, are not going well. We have made good progress [the] in recent weeks, but the last few days have not gone as planned, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the Munich security conference on Saturday.

If agreements on the outstanding issues can be reached in the coming days, he said, I believe we can reach an agreement very soon. But the last few days really haven't been very promising.

The South African ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, on February 20 urged the International Court of Justice to declare the Israeli occupation illegal. (Video: Reuters)

On Tuesday, the Biden administration sent one of its biggest assets on the issue, National Security Council Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk, to Cairo and Tel Aviv specifically to see if we can put together this hostage deal, board spokesman John Kirby told White House reporters. Home. We are currently going through a very delicate period, with these ongoing discussions.

The United States is working to extend the week-long pause in the war between Israel and Gaza in November, which led to the release of 105 hostages, women and children, captured by Hamas during its October 7 attack against southern Israel. . This attack left around 1,200 Israelis dead and triggered massive military reprisals.

The new framework provides for a cessation of hostilities for six weeks. The proposed U.S. resolution called for a ceasefire for the first time, although it is a temporary ceasefire that Biden administration officials hope will last long enough to lead to something more permanent.

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy, called the U.S. draft resolution an affirmative vision that would impose demands on Israel as well as Hamas, and contained a strong commitment to of a long-term solution for lasting peace and the reconstruction of Gaza. Thomas-Greenfield invited other governments to consult on the document but gave no indication of when it might be put to a vote.

U.S. and Arab plans for post-war Gaza and timetable for Palestinian statehood

Ongoing Israeli operations in Gaza have left nearly 30,000 dead, according to Gaza health officials. Hundreds of thousands of civilians fled to southern Gaza when Israel began its air and ground attacks in the north, but up to 300,000 people are estimated to have remained there. Although aid deliveries have been difficult throughout the enclave, few have managed to reach northern Gaza due to continued fighting, destroyed roads and Israeli denial of passage.

After its trucks were assaulted by civilian looters, the World Food Program said Tuesday it was suspending what it called vital aid deliveries to the north due to security concerns, amid what it described as unprecedented levels of despair across Gaza.

Israel has repeatedly said sufficient aid has been made available and has accused UNRWA, the United Nations agency that is the main distributor of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, of collaborating with Hamas and enabling it to siphon off aid. UNRWA is a terrorist organization, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the Security Council on Tuesday. In Gaza, Hamas is the UN and the UN is Hamas.

Many of those who fled destruction in the north are now crowded into tents, makeshift shelters and on the streets of Rafah, along the Egyptian border, after Israel shifted the focus of its offensive to the city south of Khan Younis, in pursuit of what he was looking for. According to him, they were Hamas leaders who took refuge in a network of tunnels.

Absolutely nothing has changed in our desire to see the threat of Hamas eliminated, Kirby said. We do not believe that Hamas leaders should be able to escape unscathed after the events of October 7.

But he reiterated Biden's warning to Israel not to attack Rafah without a credible and enforceable plan to protect civilians. We do not support major operations in Rafah that do not properly consider the safety and security of the more than a million people taking refuge, he said. I am not aware of a credible plan to achieve this at this time. Kirby said McGurk would repeat that message when he arrived in Israel on Thursday.

Netanyahu said canceling or delaying an offensive on Rafah would be tantamount to telling Israel to lose the war against Hamas. On Tuesday, he reiterated that Israel would not change course.

We are determined to continue the war until we achieve all our objectives, Netanyahu said. There is no pressure, none, that can change that.

Israel has indicated that an offensive on Rafah would take place before the start of Ramadan on March 10, the holy month of Muslim fasting.

This became the deadline to reach a hostage agreement. Israel has called Hamas' counterproposal to release 1,500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails delusional. The negotiating framework would see the release of three prisoners for each hostage on the same conditions as during the November break.

Officials said humanitarian aid is now the biggest problem, with Hamas demanding at least 500 trucks enter Gaza daily. Negotiators fear that unless new routes are allowed to open, it will be difficult to exceed the current level of 200 on a good day.

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