Security Council Fails to Adopt Either of Two Draft Resolutions Addressing Conflict and Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
The Security Council today failed to adopt either of two competing draft resolutions — one from the United States, the other from the Russian Federation — addressing the raging war and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
In the first vote, the United States’ text failed by a vote of 10 in favour to 3 against (China, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates), with 2 abstentions (Brazil, Mozambique), owing to the negative vote of a permanent Council member.
The Russian Federation’s version was then not carried following a vote of 4 in favour (China, Gabon, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates) and 2 against (United Kingdom, United States), with 9 abstentions (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland).
By the terms of the United States’ draft resolution, the Council would have unequivocally rejected and condemned the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups that took place in Israel starting 7 October. It would have reaffirmed the inherent right of all States to individual and collective self-defence, adding that in responding to terrorist attacks, Member States must fully comply with all their obligations under international law.
By other terms, the Council would have also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages taken by Hamas and other terrorist groups and called for all measures, specifically to include humanitarian pauses, to allow the full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access.
Speaking before the first vote, Linda Thomas-Greenfield (United States) said that her delegation had worked to forge consensus around a strong and balanced text, soliciting input from all Council members. “Our approach stands in stark contrast to Russia’s. Russia has put forward a text at the very last minute with zero — zero — consultation,” she said.
Vassily Nebenzia (Russian Federation), describing an earlier draft put forward by his delegation on 16 October as short, depoliticized and fully humanitarian, said that the United States was trying to push through a new text full of politicized, irrelevant and very dubious provisions. It contained no call for a ceasefire or any condemnation of arbitrary attacks on civilians in Gaza, among other things, he stated.
Speaking after the first vote, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield expressed deep disappointment that the Russian Federation and China vetoed the draft resolution. The United States did listen to all Council members and worked to forge consensus around a text that would send a clear message to the world and, most importantly, to Israelis and Palestinians, she said.
Zhang Jun (China) said that the United States’ draft was put forth on Saturday and included divisive elements that went beyond the humanitarian realm. His delegation, along with the Russian Federation, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, had proposed suggestions, but these were ignored in favour of cosmetic changes. The resulting draft was “out of balance” and evasive on the urgent issue of ending the fighting, he said.
Hernán Pérez Loose (Ecuador) and Ishikane Kimihiro (Japan) expressed their deep regret at the veto, while Ferit Hoxha (Albania) said that while it was not ideal, the United States’ text was a reasonable way forward. The veto will not help the hostages or people in Gaza, he added.
By the terms of the Russian Federation’s draft, the Council would have called for an immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire, firmly condemned all violence and hostilities against civilians and unequivocally rejected and condemned both the heinous attacks by Hamas in Israel starting 7 October and the taking of civilian hostages.
By other terms, it would have called for all measures, such as humanitarian pauses and establishment of humanitarian corridors, necessary to allow humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners full, rapid, safe and unhindered access to all affected areas in Gaza. It would have also urged the immediate rescission of the order for civilians and UN staff to evacuate all areas of Gaza north of the Wadi Gaza and relocate to the south.
Speaking after the vote on that text, Mr. Nebenzia regretted that the Council was unable to use yet another opportunity to respond to the unprecedented crisis in the Middle East. The challenge of preventing a further escalation now stands with the General Assembly, where Jordan is proposing a text on behalf of the Arab Group, he said.
Robert A. Wood (United States) said that the “bad faith resolution” put forward by the Russian Federation lacked consensus and failed to reflect realities on ground. It was regrettable that Moscow chose to further divide the Council, rather than address the needs of Israel and Palestine, he added.
Lana Zaki Nusseibeh (United Arab Emirates) said that the Council knows what the most pressing humanitarian needs are — an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, humanitarian access and adherence to international humanitarian law. The same value must be given to Palestinian lives as to Israeli lives, she said, adding that Gaza is occupied territory, its people cannot be abandoned and the Council must therefore step up.
Lily Stella Ngyema-Ndong (Gabon) said that her country voted in favour of both resolutions as a show of support for both Palestinians and Israelis. “We regret that antagonism within this Council and the lack of unity has meant that we are unable to arrive at a consensus text,” she said.
Barbara Woodward (United Kingdom) said that the United States’ draft would have had a real impact on the ground by calling for humanitarian pauses and the hostages’ release. Her delegation voted against the Russian Federation’s text as it failed to recognize Israel’s right to self-defence, she added.
Among delegations that abstained on the Russian Federation’s text, Carolyn Abena Anima Oppong-Ntiri (Ghana) warned that war between Israel and Hamas could engulf the entire region “if we do not effectively mobilize as a Council,” she said. Hernán Pérez Loose (Ecuador) said: “This Council must not become an arena for rivalry among its members.” Ishikane Kimihiro (Japan) said that while the Russian Federation’s draft contained important elements, it was important to recognize the right of every Member State to defend itself.
Nicolas de Rivière (France) said that while his delegation voted in favour of the United States’ draft, it abstained on the Russian Federation’s version as it failed to qualify Hamas’s actions as a terrorist attack. Nor, he added, was that text open for negotiation.
Vanessa Frazier (Malta), speaking on behalf of the Council’s 10 elected members, said that the 15-member organ must urgently and genuinely address the human situation in Gaza, whose population is on the brink of calamity. “We cannot add to their suffering through our inability to find agreement on a resolution that is definitely needed,” she said.
Gilad Erdan (Israel), taking the floor towards the end of the meeting, thanked the United States for its draft resolution and those Council members that supported it. That text clearly condemned “savage genocidal terrorists” and stood up for Member States’ right to defend themselves. “How would Moscow react if terrorist death squads wiped out entire neighbourhoods in Moscow?” he asked. “How would Beijing respond if genocidal jihadists murdered or beheaded your babies?” On the other hand, the Russian Federation’s text sought to tie Israel’s hands and prevent it from eliminating a threat to its existence. Its call for Israel to rescind its call for a temporary evacuation of Gaza only serves to maximize civilian casualties, he added.