U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution for Gaza cease-fire; presents its own draft

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks Tuesday at the United Nations Security Council on a U.S.-proposed draft resolution, which calls for a temporary cease0fire in Gaza. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/EPA-EFE
1 of 6 | U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks Tuesday at the United Nations Security Council on a U.S.-proposed draft resolution, which calls for a temporary cease0fire in Gaza. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/EPA-EFE

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The United States on Tuesday vetoed a resolution in the United Nations Security Council calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, facing a near unified front for a pause in fighting.

The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution led by Algeria, calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire with the other members of the 15-nation council voting in favor and Britain abstaining.


The position led to harsh criticism from council members, with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun saying the U.S. position is sending the "wrong message" to the world. Russian Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of giving Israel "a license to kill" in Gaza.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield offered an alternative resolution that involved freeing all 130 hostages and condemnation of Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack. She said an immediate cease-fire without those elements won't lead to a lasting peace.


The U.S. resolution also would reject any forced displacement of Palestinians in Gaza, which some conservative Israeli leaders have called for.

"Sometimes hard diplomacy takes more time than any of us might like," Thomas-Greenfield told the council. "Any action this council takes should help and not hinder these sensitives ongoing negotiations."

Algerian Ambassador Amar Benjama, who brought forward the solution for an immediate cease-fire, said he has seen little to no results in U.S. negotiations while hundreds of Palestinians die daily. He said the situation calls for action by the United Nations.

After the U.S. veto, Benjama promised that he would return this week with a new resolution and would keep the pressure on winning a cease-fire. He said his resolutions would apply to both sides to stop fighting and protect civilians under international law.

"Our message for you today is that the international community should respond to the calls for ending the killing of Palestinians by calling for an immediate cease-fire," Benjama said.

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan said a cease-fire would amount to a "death sentence" for Israel and those living in Gaza because it would simply allow Hamas to regroup and reload so it can continue fighting against Israel.


"A cease-fire is the epitome of a kick the can down the road," Erdan said, arguing it would give Hamas a pass for the Oct. 7 attack.

Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of the state of Palestine, called the lack of action by the Security Council "deplorable" as daily life in Gaza is a "living hell" because of Israel's attacks.

"Appealing for an immediate and complete end to this illegal colonial occupation and apartheid regime, the root cause of all the ills our people are suffering, including genocidal war," Mansour said.

A U.S. official told CNN that the administration doesn't believe the U.N. Security Council "has to take urgent action" on a deadline for a vote on the U.S. proposal.

"We do not plan to rush a vote," the official said.

The U.S. resolution is the first time Washington, which has vetoed two previous cease-fire resolutions, has included the word "cease-fire" -- but it was in accordance with efforts with Qatar and Egypt to negotiate a Hamas-Israel temporary cease-fire and the release of Israeli hostages, a U.S. official told the New York Times.

The move comes a day after Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz gave Hamas and other groups three weeks to release all the remaining hostages before Israel would launch its planned ground invasion of Rafah on March 10, the start of Ramadan.


The Biden administration and other Western governments have repeatedly cautioned Israel not to attack Rafah without a comprehensive plan to keep civilians from harm.

Separately, the United Nations last week warned of "devastating consequences" if the planned military offensive proceeded.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who insists the Rafah offensive is necessary to achieve the "goal of the war of eliminating Hamas," has since stated civilians would be evacuated but has not specified locations to which they could be moved safely.

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