The United Nations Security Council has rejected a draft resolution proposed by Russia that called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza but made no mention of Hamas’ attack on Israel, while a vote on a rival Brazilian text will be held on Tuesday.
The 15-nation Council met on Monday evening to vote on the Russian-led draft resolution, the first such text that was considered by the powerful UN body, amid an escalating war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The one-page draft resolution failed to garner enough votes and was not adopted by the Council, which is expected to meet again on Tuesday to vote on a rival draft resolution circulated by Brazil, the Council President for the month of October.
The draft text that called for an “immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire”, the release of all hostages, aid access and safe evacuation of civilians received five votes in favour from China, Gabon, Mozambique, Russia, and the UAE.
France, Japan, the UK, and the US voted against it, while Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta, and Switzerland abstained from voting.
For a resolution to be adopted in the Council, it must receive at least 9 votes in favour, with none of its five permanent members opposing or casting a veto.
The resolution strongly condemned all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism but made no mention of Hamas, which carried out an unprecedented assault in Isreal on October 7 that killed 1,300 people and injured over 4,000.
Retaliatory strikes from Israel have left about 2,778 Palestinians dead and injured over 9,000 in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, home to about 2.3 million people.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in her explanation of the vote, said that Russia’s resolution was put forward without any consultations and makes no mention of Hamas.
“None”, she said, adding that “by failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalises innocent civilians. It is outrageous, it is hypocritical, and it is indefensible.”
She said that Washington could not support Moscow’s resolution, which, in ignoring Hamas’ terrorism, dishonours victims.
Thomas-Greenfield described Hamas’ audacious attack on Israel as the “worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust.”
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said before the vote that the draft resolution was a “purely humanitarian text”.
“We shall not have any understanding if someone decides to not support it for political or egoistic geopolitical reasons,” Nebenzia said.
Following the draft’s failure to get adopted, the Russian envoy said it was regrettable that the Council was once again “taken hostage by the egoistic ambitions of the Western bloc.”
“Today, the entire world waited with bated breath for the Security Council to take steps in order to put an end to the bloodletting, but the delegations of the Western countries have basically stomped on those expectations,” he said.
“We believe that today’s vote in the Security Council is very demonstrative, it clearly shows who is in favour of a truce to stop the indiscriminate bombing and provision of humanitarian assistance and who is still in favour of blocking a single common message from the Security Council for purely selfish interests and political interests,” the Russian envoy said.
UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Barbara Woodward, said her country cannot support a resolution which fails to condemn Hamas’ terror attacks. She said it was “unconscionable” for the Council to ignore the largest terror attack in Israel’s history.
“We remain clear too that all possible measures on the ground must be taken to ensure civilian casualties are minimised and to facilitate humanitarian aid,” Woodward said.
She said that the Russian draft, and its process to be tabled in the UNSC, was not a serious attempt to find a Council consensus.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the Council that it should not send a signal that Palestinian lives do not matter.
“Don’t dare say Israel is not responsible for the bombs it is dropping over their heads. Don’t justify the killings. Don’t blame the victim. What is happening in Gaza is not a military operation. It is a full-scale assault against our people. it is a massacre against innocent civilians,” he said.
Mansour said the humanitarian and health system in Gaza has collapsed and over one million people have been displaced.
He listed three urgent actions that must be taken, asserting that anything else would be “legally, morally and politically unacceptable.”
He called for stopping the assault on the Palestinian people immediately, allowing immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout the Gaza Strip and stopping the forced transfer of Palestinian people.
“Our conflict is a political one, not a religious one. That is what makes it solvable but it has an impact, given its significance regionally and internationally,” he said.
“If you do not want a regional spillover, an international spillover, stop the massacres. Start there, start now,” he added.
Israel’s Permanent Representative at the UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said that the Security Council now stands at one of its most pivotal crossroads.
The first step that the Council must take before any calls for aid, calm or restraint is to designate Hamas as the “murderous terror organisation” just as it did with ISIS and al-Qaeda, Erdan said.
The Security Council must also support Israel’s right to defend itself but supporting this right does not mean echoing empty words, he said.
“It means standing in solidarity with Israel in our rescue mission to obliterate Hamas’ terror capabilities. If Hamas is not obliterated, such atrocities will be repeated,” he added.
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas after it carried out a wave of attacks inside Israel on October 7.
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