In the face of a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the United Nations Security Council has once again failed to take decisive action on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
On Wednesday, Russia and China exercised their veto power to block a United States resolution that called for a humanitarian pause. The proposed pause aimed to allow humanitarian aid access, protect civilians, and halt the arming of Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
Following the US resolution’s veto, a rival text introduced by Moscow also failed to gain sufficient support. The United States had already toned down its initial draft, which had raised eyebrows due to its failure to acknowledge the humanitarian crisis and its assertive statement on Israel’s right to self-defense.
US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, expressed disappointment at the Russian and Chinese vetoes. “Though today’s vote was a setback,” she said, “we must not be deterred.” Ten members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, while the United Arab Emirates voted against it, and Brazil and Mozambique abstained.
This unusual move by the US to propose Security Council action highlighted the urgency of the situation. Still, diplomats noted that a humanitarian pause differs from a full ceasefire, which has the support of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. A pause may last only a matter of hours.
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun pointed out that the resolution did not align with the international community’s calls for a ceasefire and an end to the conflict. He emphasized that, at this moment, a ceasefire signifies the life and death of many civilians.
Following the rejection of the US resolution, the Security Council voted on a Russian-drafted text. This Russian effort, the second of its kind, secured only four votes, whereas its initial attempt on October 16 garnered the support of five council members.
UAE ambassador, Lana Nusseibeh, who supported the Russian resolution, stressed the need for a tangible response to the dire situation in Gaza.
The 10 elected members of the Security Council now plan to collaborate on a new draft resolution, as confirmed by Malta’s UN Ambassador Vanessa Frazier.
It’s worth noting that a Brazilian-drafted resolution, presented on October 18, was vetoed by the US. The US argued that the resolution didn’t adequately underscore Israel’s right to self-defense, and Russia and the United Kingdom abstained.
As the crisis continues to escalate, Frazier highlighted the growing risk of regional spillover, demanding undivided attention. She emphasized the duty and obligation to act.
Amid the Security Council’s deadlock, the 193-member UN General Assembly is set to vote on Friday on a draft resolution proposed by Arab states and others, which calls for an immediate ceasefire. Unlike the Security Council, the General Assembly does not have veto power, and while its resolutions are non-binding, they carry significant political weight.
The Israel-Hamas conflict remains highly volatile, with Israel seeking to eliminate Hamas, which controls Gaza, in retaliation for an October 7 attack in which Hamas was responsible for the deaths of 1,400 people and the capture of at least 200. Gaza’s 2.3 million residents continue to endure the consequences of the conflict, including a siege and relentless bombing, with Palestinian authorities reporting a death toll exceeding 6,500 since the war’s outbreak.