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US veto of UN resolution unjustifiable: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-21 20:02

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield casts a veto vote on a UN Security Council resolution to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at UN headquarters in New York, US, Feb 20, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

At an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, the United States once again vetoed a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Put forward on behalf of the Arab States by Algeria, the resolution demanded "an immediate humanitarian cease-fire that must be respected by all parties".

The resolution, which gained the support of 13 out of the 15 members of the UNSC, with the United Kingdom abstaining, represents the voice of the majority of countries and the will of the international community, which wants an end to the indiscriminate killing by Israel in Gaza.

As Amar Bendjama, Algeria's ambassador to the UN, said, the UNSC "cannot afford passivity" in the face of what is unfolding in Gaza, and silence is "not a viable option".

More than 29,000 people have been killed in the "self-defense" operation Israel has launched, and more than 80 percent of the population of Gaza has been displaced over the past four months, according to Palestinian authorities.

Washington traditionally shields Israel from UN action, and it has previously vetoed two other UNSC resolutions since the conflict began on Oct 7, when it was triggered by Hamas' attack on Israel.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, said her country was vetoing the resolution over concerns it would jeopardize talks between the US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar that seek to broker a "pause" in the war and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

But this excuse does not hold water. The talks she referred to are one thing, and the UN draft resolution is another. Since the four-party talks are supposed to be seeking to realize a cease-fire, why can't the US support the UN resolution? How does passing the resolution jeopardize the talks? If the UN resolution exerted any influence, it would only help to promote the success of the talks.

The US ambassador to the UN rejected claims that the veto was the US' latest effort to cover for an imminent Israeli ground invasion into the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah, where some 1.4 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering. But other countries cannot help but think otherwise, as there is no other justifiable explanation for the US' vote against the resolution.

The US said on Monday that it had proposed a rival draft resolution calling for a temporary cease-fire and opposing a major ground offensive by Israel in Rafah. It is to be hoped that the US resolution can be put forward before Israel begins its ground offensive.

If the offensive is launched, it is inevitable that many more innocent Palestinian civilians will be killed and there will be a new humanitarian disaster in the city.

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