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Russia, China veto US bid on Gaza 'ceasefire' at Security Council

By AFP

March 22, 2024 10:49 PM


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Russia and China on Friday vetoed a US-led draft resolution at the Security Council on a ceasefire in Gaza, joining Arab countries in saying it did not pressure Israel, with Moscow accusing Washington of a "hypocritical spectacle."

The United States, Israel's main ally which has vetoed previous ceasefire calls, put forward the resolution in which the Security Council would have supported "the imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire" and for the first time condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Veto-wielding Russia and China were joined in opposing the resolution by Algeria, the current Arab nation on the Security Council, which co-sponsored a new, tougher resolution that is expected to come to a vote Saturday and risks a US veto.

Russia's ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, said that the US text would have done nothing to rein in Israel and mocked Washington for speaking of a ceasefire after "Gaza has been virtually wiped off the face of the Earth."

"We have observed a typical hypocritical spectacle," he said.

Nebenzia said the US draft was intended to "play to voters and throw them a bone in the form of some kind of a mention of a ceasefire in Gaza."

The resolution will "ensure the impunity of Israel, whose crimes are not even assessed in the draft."

  'Cynically vetoed' 

 The draft had stopped short of explicitly demanding that Israel immediately end its campaign in Gaza. In the delicate language of Security Council resolutions, the draft "determines" the "imperative" of an "immediate and sustained" ceasefire.

It linked a ceasefire to ongoing talks, led by Qatar with support from the United States and Egypt, to halt fighting in return for Hamas releasing hostages.

China's representative, Zhang Jun, said the draft "dodged the most central issue, that of a ceasefire" through its "ambiguous" language.

"Nor does it even provide an answer to the question of realizing a ceasefire in the short term," he said.

On a visit to Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia and China "cynically vetoed" a resolution that had "strong support."

"I think we were trying to show the international community a sense of urgency about getting a ceasefire," Blinken told reporters.

Speaking at the Security Council, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: "Let's be honest -- for all the fiery rhetoric, we all know that Russia and China are not doing anything diplomatically to advance a lasting peace or to meaningfully contribute to the humanitarian response effort."

  Push for alternative resolution 

 The tougher resolution to be voted on Saturday is co-sponsored by Algeria and a diverse group of nations that backed the US draft -- Malta, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Slovenia and Switzerland -- as well as Guyana, which abstained Friday.

But Thomas-Greenfield indicated US opposition, saying the resolution would jeopardize ongoing talks for the release of hostages.

Israel's UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, said the vetoes of the US resolution meant that "terrorists can continue benefitting from this Council."

"The Council's decision to not condemn Hamas is a stain that will never be forgotten," he said.

Russia, China and Algeria in turn said that a resolution should stop Israel from a threatened offensive in the city of Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians have sheltered.

The United States has publicly opposed the operation, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Friday after meeting Blinken to go into Rafah even without Washington's support.

More than 1,160 people, mostly civilians, died on October 7 when militants infiltrated Israel in the country's deadliest ever attack, according to Israeli official figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

Israel afterward vowed to eradicate Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Some 32,000 people, mostly civilians, have died, according to the Gaza health ministry, and the United Nations has warned of imminent famine in the territory.


AFP


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