Russia, China veto U.S. Security Council decision on Gaza cease-fire | EUROtoday

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Russia and China on Friday vetoed a U.S.-authored decision earlier than the U.N. Security Council that set out the “imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire” in Gaza, tied to the discharge of Hamas hostages, and warned towards any floor offensive into Rafah.

Using language harking back to the Cold War, Russia referred to as the measure a “hypocritical initiative” and an “empty political exercise” that performed into U.S. and Israeli fingers. “If you do this, you will cover yourselves in disgrace,” Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya mentioned earlier than the vote.

Over the previous a number of months, the council majority has repeatedly referred to as for an instantaneous, unconditional cease-fire in resolutions vetoed by the United States on grounds that they didn’t condemn Hamas or demand the simultaneous launch of Israeli hostages it holds. The third and most up-to-date U.S. veto got here on Feb. 20, when it opposed an Algeria-sponsored measure demanding an instantaneous cease-fire.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, talking Friday as he departed from Tel Aviv on his newest journey to the Middle East, condemned the “cynical” Russian and Chinese vetoes. “We were trying to show the international community a sense of urgency about getting a cease-fire tied to the release of hostages, something that everyone, including the countries that vetoed the resolution should have been able to get behind,” Blinken mentioned. “It’s unimaginable why countries wouldn’t be able to do that.”

The Friday decision was placed on the desk after weeks of U.S. makes an attempt to accommodate different views amid Washington’s worldwide isolation over help for Israel’s warfare effort and the Biden administration’s rising concern over the deteriorating humanitarian state of affairs in Gaza.

In interesting for help, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield mentioned that the decision mirrored an effort to beat divisions inside the Security Council. “It would be a historic mistake for the council not to adopt this text,” she mentioned earlier than the vote. The measure marked the primary time the United States immediately referred to as for an “immediate” cease-fire. It additionally condemned Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel that killed about 1,200 individuals and started the warfare.

“First and foremost, we want to see an immediate and sustained cease-fire as part of a deal that leads to the release of all hostages being held by Hamas and other groups, and that will allow much more lifesaving humanitarian aid to get into Gaza,” Thomas-Greenfield mentioned earlier than the vote.

Russia and China, each of that are among the many 5 everlasting members that wield veto energy over the 15-member council, have been joined in opposing the measure by Algeria, a rotational member representing Arab international locations on the council. Guyana abstained.

Quite a few international locations supporting the brand new U.S. decision had voted for the earlier measures demanding a “clean” name for an instantaneous and unconditional cease-fire. Like Guyana, they questioned the absence of any point out of Israel because the perpetrator of the humanitarian state of affairs it decried. While many insisted the hostages nonetheless held by Hamas should be launched, some mentioned that the loss of life and deprivation inflicted on civilians in Gaza was so extreme that it ought to be addressed by itself with an unequivocal cease-fire demand.

The Biden administration, together with Qatar and Egypt, has been locked in negotiations for weeks with Israel and Hamas over the phrases of an preliminary six-week cease-fire that will see the discharge of some hostages and an enormous improve in humanitarian assist to Gaza. Both the administration and Israel have mentioned that Hamas shouldn’t be given “something for nothing” within the type of a cease-fire with out returning the hostages.

Blinken, in remarks to reporters, mentioned progress was being made within the negotiations, “closing gaps.” But, he mentioned, “almost by definition when you get down to the last items, they tend to be the hardest. So there’s still a lot of … hard work to be done, but we’re determined to try to get it done.”

In remarks after the council vote, Thomas-Greenfield centered most of her consideration on Russia, which she mentioned had “two deeply, deeply cynical reasons” for its opposition.

“Russia still could not bring themselves to condemn Hamas terrorist attacks,” she mentioned. Calling the second cause “petty,” she mentioned that Russia “simply did not want to vote for a resolution that was penned by the United States. … It would rather see us fail than to allow this council to succeed.”

“Russia, which has carried out an unprovoked war on its neighbor, has the audacity and the hypocrisy to throw stones when it lives in a glass house,” she mentioned, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Michael Birnbaum in Tel Aviv contributed to this report.