The U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council resolution Friday calling for a ceasefire to the fighting in Gaza.
The U.S. and Israel have opposed calls for a ceasefire, saying it would strengthen Hamas.
The vote was delayed for several hours over worries the U.S. would veto it. Diplomats from several Arab nations met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to try to convince the U.S. to abstain from voting.
As a permanent member of the council, the U.S. has veto power, and had signaled it planned to block the resolution. The U.K. abstained from the vote, while the 13 other members of the council voted for it.
Faced with the resolution, the U.S. was under new pressure to control the actions of its ally Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour wrote. The U.S. will pay a “diplomatic price” for vetoing the ceasefire call, which also puts it at odds with the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, who supported the resolution. Instead, the U.S. backed calls for humanitarian “pauses” in the fighting.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used a rare diplomatic tool to convene the Security Council for the ceasefire vote. Article 99 of the UN Charter — which was last invoked in 1971 amid conflict that led to the creation of Bangladesh — allows Guterres to raise the council’s attention to a critical issue. In this case, he wrote in a letter that public order in Gaza will “completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions.” It’s essentially a “desperate diplomatic appeal for international action,” Just Security wrote. It had symbolic weight, but was seen as unlikely to change the international political dynamics.
The vote came a day after the U.S. Secretary of State issued his strongest criticism of Israel since the war started. Antony Blinken said a “gap” remains between Israel’s “intent to protect civilians” and what’s playing out on the ground. The U.S. had been pushing for Israel to open its Kerem Shalom crossing to screen goods going from Egypt into Gaza, which Israel agreed to this week, as the UN said its aid program has fallen apart.