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US vetoes Gaza cease-fire resolution at UN Security Council

The United States blocked a Security Council resolution demanding “an immediate cease-fire” between Israel and Hamas but offered its own draft calling for a “temporary” one.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The United States on Tuesday vetoed an Arab-backed UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip that the Biden administration said could undermine negotiations to free the remaining hostages held by Hamas.

The vote marked the third time the United States had used its veto to defend Israel at the UN body since Oct. 7, when the militants killed 1,200 people and kidnapped 240 others in southern Israel.

The resolution drafted by Algeria called for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that must be respected by all parties," and separately demanded “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.” 

It was backed by 13 of the council’s 15 members. The United States, which holds veto power as a permanent member, voted against the resolution and the United Kingdom abstained.

The Biden administration has resisted calls for a permanent truce even as the casualties have mounted in Gaza. The Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said Monday the death toll from Israel’s military campaign has surpassed 29,000.

Along with mediators Qatar and Egypt, the United States is seeking a six-week pause in the fighting to allow the release of the remaining hostages and boost humanitarian aid deliveries. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield argued that passing the cease-fire resolution could extend the hostages’ time in captivity.

"Proceeding with a vote today was wishful and irresponsible,” Thomas-Greenfield told council members. “We cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy.”

Before the vote, the American delegation circulated a rival resolution that called for a “temporary cease-fire in Gaza as soon as practicable,” according to the text seen by Al-Monitor. The resolution marks the first time the United States has expressed support for a cease-fire, albeit a temporary one, at the Security Council. 

The US draft resolution also warns that Israel’s expected ground offensive in Rafah “should not proceed under current circumstances.” The Israeli military is preparing to launch an offensive on Gaza's crowded border city of Rafah, where an estimated 1.4 million people — more than half the territory’s population — have sought shelter after four months of war.

Such an operation “would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security,” the US resolution says.

It was not immediately clear if or when the Security Council would vote on the alternative resolution, but Thomas-Greenfield said Washington is prepared to hold consultations in the days ahead.

This developing story has been updated since initial publication.