China and Russia on Wednesday vetoed a draft resolution sponsored by the United States while a second Russian-backed resolution failed to secure sufficient votes.
It failed to secure sufficient votes in favour, deepening the UN Security Council’s deadlock over any unified response to address the crisis in Gaza and Israel.
The U.S.-led draft resolution failed to pass owing to a negative vote by permanent Security Council members China and Russia.
Ten members of the Council voted for the draft resolution and three against (China, Russia and UAE), with two abstentions (Brazil and Mozambique).
A ‘no’ vote from any one of the five permanent members of the Council stops action on any measure put before it.
The body’s permanent members are China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
A second draft resolution, led by Russia, was not adopted as it failed to secure a sufficient number of votes in favour.
Four Council members voted in favour (China, Gabon, Russia and UAE), two against (UK and US), and nine abstained (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland).
For a resolution to be adopted, it must be supported by at least nine members of the Council.
The similarly worded resolutions would have called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” or “humanitarian pause” to enable safe delivery of aid for desperate civilians.
Both drafts condemned the terror attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians on October 7.
They called for urgent action to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, where fuel is due to run out for hospitals and other crucial services, in a matter of hours, according to UN agencies on the ground.
Key differences in the text included a specific mention in the U.S.-backed proposal of Israel’s inherent right to self-defence, and a call in the Russian-led one for the immediate cancellation by Israeli forces of the evacuation order for civilians to head into southern Gaza.
Draft resolutions do not represent the official position of the 15-member Security Council until adopted.
Reacting, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed deep disappointment in the vetoing of the U.S. resolution by China and Russia.
She said the U.S. stands ready to work with all Member States to support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General, President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Expressing dismay after the Russian resolution fell, Ambassador Vassily Nebenzy regretted that once again, the Council had failed to respond to the unprecedented conflict in the Middle East.
China’s Ambassador Zhang Jun said they had used their veto against the U.S. resolution “based on facts, based on law, based on conscience, based on justice”.
He said in discussions the U.S. text had emerged “seriously out of balance”, introduced in haste and lacking the strongest calls necessary for a full ceasefire.
He said China was fully in favour of taking action but accused the U.S. text of being “evasive” on the key issue of ending the fighting, adding that ceasefire was not only a diplomatic term but a matter of life and death for many civilians.
“We would be irresponsible if we are ambiguous on the issue of war and peace,” said the Ambassador, stressing that China is not indifferent to the suffering of Gazans.
He said because the U.S. text failed to mention the root causes of the current crisis in Gaza, without reference to Israel’s blockade or the evacuation order for civilians to move south, his country would be voting in favour of the Russian text.
He said the U.S. effort, if adopted, would completely end the possibility of a long term two-State solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward said through the U.S. proposal, the Council could have condemned Hamas’ terrorist attacks. At the same time, Russia’s draft failed to recognise Israel’s right to self-defence.
“We are committed to work across the Council towards a balanced text,” she said, which should include a condemnation of Hamas, reaffirm Israel’s self-defence rights, protect civilians, and get more aid flowing into Gaza.
The United Arab Emirates’ Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh said “the stakes are too high” and the Council “must step up”.
“We know what the most pressing humanitarian needs are,” she said, adding that these include a humanitarian ceasefire, release of all hostages, humanitarian access, fuel, water, and adherence to international humanitarian law.
Israel’s Ambassador Gilad Erdin said his country continues to be attacked from north and south, and asked Council members how they would feel if faced with this reality.
“You would feel there is a blatant double standard,” he said, “and that the Council isn’t taking even the most basic steps anyone with a slight moral compass should take. This is precisely how the State of Israel feels right now.”
Israel has a right to self-defence, he said, adding that Hamas is solely responsible for Palestinian situation in Gaza and is committing crimes against humanity.
“In the wake of the Holocaust, we collectively swore ‘never again’”, he said. “This is one of the main reasons the UN was established. ‘Never again’, dear colleagues, is now. Do not forget this.”