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newsIsrael at War

Washington standing in the way of binding UN ceasefire call

A vote on a Security Council resolution was pushed off for a second straight day at the Biden administration’s behest.

The U.N. Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East. Photo by Loey Felipe/U.N. Photo.
The U.N. Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East. Photo by Loey Felipe/U.N. Photo.

The vote was scheduled for Monday evening. Then Tuesday morning. It was pushed back to early Tuesday afternoon before another shift to late afternoon, then early evening. Going into Wednesday morning, there is still no resolution on the resolution.

Washington remains Jerusalem’s last line of defense at the United Nations, with the Biden administration again thwarting—for now—a vote on a Security Council resolution effectively calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

The United Arab Emirates-drafted resolution has the backing to pass, save for the United States and its veto power as a permanent member of the council. The United States has already vetoed two Security Council resolutions since the onset of the war, both of which called for a halt to Israel’s military operation to eliminate Hamas.

The current draft contains a number of provisions that draw little if any pushback from Washington, including a call for an “urgent suspension of hostilities” in order to fulfill the resolution’s demand of an unhindered, U.N.-monitored flow of humanitarian aid and fuel into Gaza by land, air and sea.

Also included is a demand for the release of all hostages held in Gaza and for the immediate addressing of their medical needs.

But Washington is fending off a provision that calls for “urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities.” The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire, believing it would only benefit Hamas. Washington has supported pauses in fighting in order to protect civilians and allow for the release of hostages.

The U.S. State Department is also wrangling over the terms of the deconfliction mechanism outlined by the draft resolution, which is meant to coordinate the positions of aid workers and the flow of aid with the Israeli military to avoid any accidental strikes against them.

Additionally, indications are that the Biden administration uneasy with the draft’s proposal that the United Nations be given exclusive oversight of aid delivery, which would necessitate an increased presence of U.N. workers, a civilian observer mission or the deployment of unarmed military observers, according to a menu of options proposed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. All would require cooperation from Israel at a minimum.

The Israeli mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the nature of discussions surrounding the resolution.

When asked on Tuesday afternoon if an agreement was any closer, Robert Wood, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations, would only say, “We’re trying. We really are.”

During Tuesday’s regularly-scheduled monthly Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian file, Wood reiterated Washington’s call for the Council to clearly condemn Hamas, along with the Houthis and other regional actors carrying out terror and threatening peace.

He also said Gaza must no longer be controlled by Hamas, something which the current Council draft resolution makes clear in a provision calling for Gaza and the Palestinian-controlled territory in Judea and Samaria to be united under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.

The rest of the Security Council, however, was largely critical of Israel, with especially sharp comments coming from Russia.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s U.N. envoy, accused Israel of “cleansing” Palestinians in Judea and Samaria “for a long time.”

He also faulted the United States for the failure of the Security Council to take meaningful action in the current war. 

“By now, it should have become obvious to everyone that the stalling of collective efforts within the United Nations is not due to any objective institutional problems, but solely to the hard-headed and selfish ambitions of the American leadership,” said Nebenzia, who has been isolated at the United Nations for vetoing repeatedly any action against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

A vote on the UAE resolution is now scheduled for approximately 11 a.m. E.T. on Wednesday. Should the United States continue to push back, Abu Dhabi has the option to table the resolution for a vote anyway and likely force Washington to use yet another veto, showing its growing isolation and, at the same time, its steadfastness in backing Israel at the global body.

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