‘Double standards’: World reacts to US veto on Gaza truce resolution at UN

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World leaders, international rights groups and United Nations officials have criticised the United States for vetoing a UN resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and failing to halt the war that has killed more than 17,400 Palestinians and about 1,100 people in Israel since October 7.

A UN resolution on the pause in hostilities failed to pass on Friday at the UN Security Council after the United States vetoed the proposal and Britain abstained.

The remaining 13 of the 15 current members of the UNSC voted in favour of the resolution put forward by the United Arab Emirates and co-sponsored by 100 other countries.

Here are some of the reactions:

Palestine

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said it was “a disgrace and another blank cheque given to the occupying state to massacre, destroy and displace”.

Palestine’s UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the UNSC that the result of the vote was “disastrous”. “If you are against the destruction and displacement of the Palestinian people you must stand against this war. And if you support it then you are enabling this destruction and displacement regardless of your intentions … Millions of Palestinian lives hang in the balance. Every single one of them is sacred, worth saving.”

Hamas strongly condemned the US veto, saying it considers Washington’s move “unethical and inhumane”. “The US obstruction of the issuance of a ceasefire resolution is a direct participation with the occupation in killing our people and committing more massacres and ethnic cleansing,” Izzat al-Risheq, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, said in a statement.

Israel

Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan did not address the UNSC after the vote, but in a statement said: “A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.”

United States

Deputy US ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the council that the draft resolution was a rushed, imbalanced text “that was divorced from reality, that would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way”.

“We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” he said.

Amnesty International

Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general: “By vetoing this resolution, the US has displayed a callous disregard for civilian suffering in the face of a staggering death toll, extensive destruction and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe happening in the occupied Gaza Strip.”

We are devastated by the UN Security Council’s failure to adopt a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza—blocked by a solitary veto from the United States.

“By vetoing this resolution, the US stands alone in casting its vote against humanity.”https://t.co/D2oIFaMoje

— Doctors w/o Borders (@MSF_USA) December 8, 2023

Doctors Without Borders

Avril Benoit, executive director of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) USA: “By vetoing this resolution, the US stands alone in casting its vote against humanity. The US veto stands in sharp contrast to the values it professes to uphold. By continuing to provide diplomatic cover for the ongoing atrocities in Gaza, the US is signaling that international humanitarian law can be applied selectively — and that the lives of some people matter less than the lives of others …. The US veto makes it complicit in the carnage in Gaza.”

Human Rights Watch

The international rights groups released a statement saying: “By continuing to provide Israel with weapons [and] diplomatic cover as it commits atrocities, including collectively punishing the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, the US risks complicity in war crimes.”

Posting on X, HRW’s former executive director, Kenneth Roth, said: “The US government vetoes a UN Security Council call for a Gaza ceasefire. The US cites Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas, but does Biden really think that pummeling Palestinian civilians in Gaza is accomplishing that? Or building the next Hamas?”

United Kingdom

Britain’s UN ambassador Barbara Woodward said her country abstained because the resolution had no condemnation of Hamas. “Israel needs to be able to address the threat posed by Hamas and it needs to do so in a manner that abides by international humanitarian law so that such an attack can never be carried out again,” she told the UNSC.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE’s deputy UN ambassador Mohamed Abushahab asked the UNSC: “What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza? Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”

Iran

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned of the threat of an “uncontrollable explosion” of the situation in the Middle East, after the US veto, the AFP news agency reported. “As long as America supports the crimes of the Zionist regime (Israel) and the continuation of the war … there is a possibility of an uncontrollable explosion in the situation of the region,” Amirabdollahian told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a phone call, according to a ministry statement.

China

Permanent representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, told the council: “Condoning the continuation of fighting while claiming to care about the lives and safety of people in Gaza is self-contradictory.  Condoning the continuation of fighting while advocating for the prevention of the spillover effects of the conflict is self-deceiving. Condoning the continuation of fighting while making references to the protection of women and children and human rights is hypocritical. All these once again show us what double standards are.”

Russia

Ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said: “Our colleagues from the USA have literally before our eyes issued a death sentence to thousands if not tens of thousands more civilians in Palestine and Israel.”

France

Ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, said at the UNSC: “Unfortunately once again this council has failed with a lack of unity, and by refusing to commit to negotiations the crisis in Gaza is getting worse and the council is not completing its mandate under the charter.”

Turkey

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan said the US is now left alone on the Gaza issue after it blocked the passage of the resolution. “Our friends once again expressed that America is now alone on this issue, especially in the voting held at the United Nations today … American political system is now helpless on issues related to Israel,” he told state news agency Anadolu and national broadcaster TRT in an interview.

Yanis Varoufakis, Greek former finance minister

“Mr Biden, by vetoing 13 out of 15 UN Security Council members’ call for an immediate ceasefire (along with the UK’s cowardly abstention), you have joined the Pantheon of recent War Criminals, along with George W. Bush and V. Putin,” he said in a post on X.

Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand

“US has blocked UN Security Council resolution calling for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, seemingly unmoved by shocking death & injury toll & destruction of homes & community infrastructure,” she posted on X.

Craig Mokhiber, former head of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) office in New York

“On the eve of the 75th Anniversary of the Genocide Convention, the US has again vetoed a ceasefire in the UN Security Council, thereby demonstrating its further complicity in the #genocide in #Palestine. Thousands  have died since its last veto & more will die now,” he said in a post on X.

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