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.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
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:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US’s veto made it “complicit” in war crimes in Gaza. “The president has described the American position as aggressive and immoral, a flagrant violation of all humanitarian principles and values, and holds the United States responsible for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women and elderly people in the Gaza Strip,” a statement from his office said.
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the veto 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’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.”
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.
Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general, said on X that the US veto “displays a callous disregard for civilian suffering in the face of a staggering death toll”. The statement also said that Washington “has brazenly wielded and weaponized its veto to strongarm the UN Security Council, further undermining its credibility and ability to live up to its mandate to maintain international peace and security”.
US veto of ceasefire resolution displays callous disregard for civilian suffering in face of staggering death toll. It is morally indefensible, a dereliction of the US duty to prevent atrocity crimes and a complete lack of global leadership. Just appalling https://t.co/vl6Pv6Lcv6
— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) 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.”
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
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?”
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?”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned whether justice can be achieved after calls for a ceasefire were rejected. “The Israeli administration, which has the unwavering support of Western countries, is committing murderous atrocities and massacres in Gaza that will make all humans blush … A fair world is possible, but not with America, because America sides with Israel,” he said speaking at World Human Rights Day Event. “Reforming the United Nations Security Council is a must,” he added, saying the world is bigger than just the five permanent members.
Earlier the minister of foreign affairs, Hakan Fidan, told Turkish media: “America is now alone on this issue [of the war on Gaza], especially in the voting held at the United Nations today … American political system is now helpless on issues related to Israel.”
Foreign minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi said in a post on X: “The use of the veto at the Security Council is a shameful insult to humanitarian norms. I deeply regret that the United States should sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians for the cause of Zionism,”
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim expressed his “strong objection” to the US vetoing the resolution. “It is strange and beyond human sanity when there are parties who support and remain silent regarding the massacre of innocent children and women as well as civilians,” he posted on X.
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.