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Netanyahu cancels Washington delegation visit after US abstains from UN cease-fire vote

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Strategic Minister Ron Dermer and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi will not travel to Washington after the United States refrained from vetoing a UN resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on Sept. 27, 2023.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Monday that the delegation of senior Israeli officials scheduled to visit Washington this week to discuss the status of southern Gaza's Rafah has been canceled after the United States did not veto a resolution adopted at the UN Security Council calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

A statement issued by Netanyahu’s office said that the United States backed away from its traditional position at the Security Council, where it had conditioned any call for a cease-fire on the release of Israeli hostages held in the enclave.  

US envoy to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after the vote, "This resolution rightly acknowledges that during the month of Ramadan, we must recommit to peace. Hamas can do that by accepting the deal on the table. A cease-fire can begin immediately with the release of the first hostage. And so, we must put pressure on Hamas to do just that." 

In the most recent resolution that failed at the council, China and Russia vetoed an American proposal because they supported calls for a cease-fire that were not linked to the release of hostages. The current decision was supported by both these countries along with Algeria and others, according to the statement from Netanyahu’s office. 

"The United States did not veto today the new text calling for a cease-fire without conditioning it on the release of the hostages. This is a clear set back from the US constant stance at the Security Council since the beginning of the war," read the statement. 

"This setback hurts the effort of the war and also the efforts to release the hostages, because it offers Hamas hope that the international pressure will enable them to get a cease-fire without releasing our hostages," the statement added, noting that in view of this development Netanyahu decided to cancel a senior delegation's trip to Washington this week.

Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi were expected in Washington following a request by President Joe Biden last week. The delegation was set to hear American proposals for expanded humanitarian aid in Gaza and alternatives to a major Israeli military operation in Rafah, where roughly 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering. 

On Monday morning, shortly before the UN Security Council vote, Netanyahu had said that if the Americans did not veto the draft the Israeli delegation would stay home. Netanyahu's office said Dermer was informed by the Biden administration that the United States would support two separate UN resolutions, one calling for a Gaza cease-fire and one for the release of the hostages held by Hamas, but ultimately only one resolution was put forward at the council.