The UN Security Council on Monday rejected a Russian resolution calling for a ceasefire to end the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, with delegates refusing to back a motion that did not single out Hamas for its devastating shock onslaught in Israel that left at least 1,300 people dead.
The council huddled as Israel readied for an expected ground assault on the Gaza Strip, after air and artillery strikes that officials say have killed at least 2,750 people.
It also came as the White House said US President Joe Biden would visit Israel on Wednesday, in a trip that is designed to balance support for a key ally with growing global calls for restraint in its operations in Gaza.
Just four countries voted with Russia on its proposed text. Four others — including the US — voted against, while six abstained.
A second text proposed by Brazil with unequivocal language condemning Hamas appeared to have broader support, and was expected to come to a vote on Tuesday evening, diplomats said.
Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said despite the failure, the resolution had spurred the council to action.
“It has contributed to launching a substantive discussion in the Security Council on this topic. Without our encouragement, everything would probably have been limited to empty discussions,” he said.
The United Kingdom, which joined the US in voting down the Russian proposal, criticized Moscow’s lack of consultation and accused Russia of not making a serious attempt to find consensus.
“We cannot support a resolution which fails to condemn Hamas’ terror attacks,” Barbara Woodward told the council.
In her speech explaining the decision to vote against the resolution, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield blasted Russia for failing to even mention Hamas in the document.
“By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians. It is outrageous, it is hypocritical, and it is indefensible,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
“We agree that this council should take action, but we have to get it right. And we’ll work intensively with all members on the council to do so,” the US ambassador said. “Hamas set the humanitarian crisis in Gaza in motion, and we cannot allow this council to unfairly shift the blame to Israel and excuse Hamas for its decades of cruelty. Period.”
Israel’s envoy Gilad Erdan said the Security Council, which has not adopted a resolution on the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories since 2016, stood at “one of its most pivotal crossroads” since its founding in the aftermath of World War II.
“Will the council support the fight for civilization? Or will it incentivize the genocide of jihadists who aim to murder all the infidels?” he said.
“For a body dedicated to security, this shouldn’t even be a question.
“The first step this council must take before any calls for aid, calm or restraint is to designate Hamas as the murderous terror organization that it is.”
Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour said the council had a moral duty to act in a bid to restrain an Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which he said was claiming 12 lives every hour.
“Don’t send the signal that the Palestinian lives don’t matter,” he said. “Don’t dare say Israel is not responsible for the bombs it is dropping over their heads.”
“What is happening in Gaza is not a military operation. It is a full-scale assault against our people. It is massacres against innocent civilians.”
Israel has cut off supplies of water and power to the isolated Gaza Strip and urged more than a million people to leave the north of the densely populated enclave and head south ahead of a ground offensive.
The UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees has warned that the Gaza Strip faces an “unprecedented human catastrophe” if water and other vital supplies are not restored. Israeli officials have said they decided to restore water supply to the south of the Strip.
War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw at least 1,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,300 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what US President Joe Biden has highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”