US abstains as UN votes for cease-fire in Gaza

The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Monday demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas after the United States abstained from the vote, sparking a spat with its ally Israel.

The remaining 14 council members voted for the resolution, which was proposed by the 10 elected members of the body. There was a round of applause in the council chamber after the vote.

“This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres posted on social media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the failure of the U.S. to veto the resolution was a “clear retreat” from its previous position and would hurt Israel’s war efforts and bid to release more than 130 hostages still held by Hamas.

“Our vote does not, and I repeat that does not represent a shift in our policy,” White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. “Nothing has changed about our policy. Nothing.”

Following the U.N. vote, Netanyahu canceled a visit to Washington by a high-level delegation that was due to discuss a planned Israeli military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where some 1.5 million Palestinians have sought shelter.

The U.S. was perplexed by Israel’s decision and considered it an overreaction, said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Washington had been averse to the word ceasefire earlier in the nearly six-month-old war in the Gaza Strip and had used its veto power to shield Israel as it retaliated against Hamas for an Oct. 7 attack that Israel says killed 1,200 people.

But as famine looms in Gaza and amid growing global pressure for a truce in the war that Palestinian health authorities say has killed some 32,000 people, the U.S. abstained on Monday to allow the Security Council to demand an immediate ceasefire for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends in two weeks.

“It was the Hamas massacre that started this war,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan said. “The resolution just voted upon makes it seem as if the war started by itself… Israel did not start this war, nor did Israel want this war.”

Hamas welcomed the Security Council resolution, saying in a statement that it “affirms readiness to engage in immediate prisoner swaps on both sides.”
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. fully supported “some of the critical objectives in this non-binding resolution,” but added that Washington did not agree with everything in the text, which also did not condemn Hamas.

 

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