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US again vetoes UN call for Gaza truce

By MINGMEI LI at the United Nations | | Updated: 2024-02-21 17:02
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This handout photograph taken on Feb 18, 2024 by the World Health Organization (WHO), shows a convoy of ambulances during a WHO, UN humanitarian agency OCHA and Palestinian Red Crescent mission to evacuate patients from Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. [Photo/Agencies]

The United States exercised its veto power for the fourth time on Tuesday on the United Nations Security Council resolution that called for a cease-fire in Gaza in an attempt to halt fighting between Israel and Palestine.

The UN Council voted on the resolution proposed by Algeria on behalf of the Arab states. The draft resolution called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, the immediate release of all hostages, guaranteed access to humanitarian supplies, and the rejection of forced displacement. Unfortunately, the resolution did not pass due to a veto by the US.

China voted in favor of the draft resolution with 13 countries, while the United Kingdom abstained from voting. China expressed strong disappointment and dissatisfaction with the US veto.

"While the Council cease-fire resolution has been vetoed, innocent civilians in Gaza are dying in the fighting and struggling on the brink of death," Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said, adding the cease-fire is urgently required by the situation on the ground and it is also based on the minimum requirements of humanity. It deserves the support of all Council members, he said.

"The US claimed that the Council resolution would interfere with the ongoing diplomatic efforts. Such a claim is totally untenable. Given the situation on the ground, the continued passive avoidance of an immediate cease-fire is nothing different from giving a green light to the continued slaughter," Zhang said.

Zhang said the draft resolution of Algeria, demonstrating reason, sincerity, and an open attitude, held lengthy and extensive consultations with all parties and took on board many constructive ideas, making the draft resolution more balanced.

The US has exercised its veto power on the Gaza cease-fire issue for the fourth time, following its rejection of resolutions proposed by Brazil in October 2023, the United Arab Emirates in December, and a proposed amendment by Russia.

The outcome of today's vote clearly shows that on the issue of a cease-fire to halt the fighting in Gaza, it is not that the Security Council does not have an overwhelming consensus, but rather it is the exercise of veto by the US that stifles the consensus, he said.

The US veto sends a wrong message, pushing the situation in Gaza into a more dangerous one, said Zhang, expressing disappointment with the veto.

Zhang said the spillover effect of the conflict is destabilizing the entire Middle East region, leading to the increasing risk of a wider war, as the resolution has been vetoed. The basics of international law are being trampled upon, and the bedrock of the multilateral system is being eroded, he said.

"The Council must respond forcefully to the serious violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the Gaza conflict and uphold the authority of international rule of order," he added.

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