US vetoes Security Council demand for ceasefire

US veto

WASHINGTON: The United States kept up pressure on Israel to do more to protect Palestinian civilians during a fierce offensive against Hamas militants across Gaza, even as Washington vetoed a UN Security Council demand for an immediate ceasefire.

Fighting escalated and the Palestinian death toll rose on Friday, with Israel pounding the enclave from north to south in an expanded phase of the two-month-old war against the group Hamas.

Decrying a “spiralling humanitarian nightmare”, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared that nowhere in Gaza was safe for civilians, hours before the US vetoed a Security Council resolution backed by the vast majority of its members calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

UN council delays vote on demand for Gaza ceasefire

The vote left Washington diplomatically isolated on the 15-member council. Thirteen members voted in favor of the draft resolution put forward by the United Arab Emirates, while Britain abstained.

Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the council: “We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war.”

The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire, saying it would only benefit Hamas, which Israel has vowed to annihilate in response to the militants’ deadly Oct. 7 cross-border rampage.

Washington instead supports “pauses” like the seven-day halt in fighting that saw Hamas release some hostages and the humanitarian aid flow increase. The deal broke down on Dec. 1.

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the council the vote means that “millions of Palestinian lives hang in the balance.”

Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, condemned the US veto as “inhumane.”

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said in a statement: “A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.”

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