The United States on Friday used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block the passage of a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire that would require Israel to halt its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The U.S. opposed the draft resolution because the text was “divorced from reality,” said Robert Wood, Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, in remarks to the Security Council.
“We still cannot comprehend why the resolution’s authors declined to include language condemning Hamas’ horrific terrorist attack on Israel on October 7,” Wood said, explaining that other recommended provisions raised by the U.S. were ignored.
Thirteen members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, which was put forward by the United Arab Emirates, which holds the presidency of the council for December.
The United Kingdom abstained. The U.S., as one of five permanent members, holds veto power.
Despite the criticisms by the U.S., the vote and abstention by the U.K. signals the increasing pressure on Israel over its military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip for the immense humanitarian toll it is taking, with more than 16,000 people believed killed, wide-scale destruction and aid groups describing a catastrophic crisis.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres took the unusual step of invoking Article 99 of the United Nations Charter over the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, a move to raise alarm to the Security Council of a matter that threatens international peace and security.
“The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis,” Guterres wrote in his statement.
But Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, accused the council of holding double standards against Israel for failing to invoking Article 99 for other global crises, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria and Yemen’s civil war.
“Despite the immense global impact of other conflicts and far more pressing threats to international peace and security, Israel’s defensive war against Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, was the catalyst for activating Article 99,” Erdan said.
“The irony is that regional stability and the security of both Israelis and Gazans can only be achieved once Hamas is eliminated, not one minute before.”
The U.S. is backing Israel’s right not to halt fighting against Hamas absent the group following through on agreeing to release more than 130 hostages it kidnapped from Israel while it carried out its brutal assault on Oct. 7, where 1,200 people were massacred.
But even as the U.S. is standing with Israel in the face of growing international isolation, Biden administration officials are raising alarm with the Israeli government that the military operation against Hamas must do more to protect civilian lives.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said there is a “gap” between remarks he made in Israel to protect civilians in Gaza and how Israel has continued carrying out its military campaign.
“There does remain a gap between exactly what I said when I was there, the intent to protect civilians, and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground,” he said.