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War on Gaza: US vetoes UN resolution on immediate ceasefire

Veto marks the fourth time Washington has blocked diplomatic efforts to call for a ceasefire at the United Nations
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield raises her hand to block Algeria's resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza (Screengrab)

The United States has vetoed a UN draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, marking the third time Washington has blocked such a measure since Israel's war on the besieged enclave began in October.

The draft resolution, which was submitted to the UN Security Council by Algeria, received 13 votes in favour, with one abstention from the UK. The US was the only member, including permanent and non-permanent members, of the Security Council to veto the resolution.

The measure would have called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the ongoing war in Gaza, where Israel's military has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians and has destroyed or damaged civilian infrastructure including schools, shelters, and hospitals.

Tuesday's veto marks the third time the US has vetoed a call for a ceasefire at the UN. Washington also blocked an amendment calling for a ceasefire that Russia had tried including on a Security Council resolution in December.

US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield had previously warned over the weekend that Washington would block the Algerian resolution. Thomas-Greenfield claimed that the measure could jeopardise a hostage deal that would pause the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

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Instead, the US has offered its own counter-resolution that would condemn Hamas for launching the 7 October attacks on Israel. The US resolution offers opposition to Israel's consideration of a full-scale offensive on Rafah based on the current situation on the ground in Rafah. However, it does not unequivocally oppose an Israeli invasion of Rafah.

US drafts counter UN Security Council resolution calling for temporary ceasefire
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"Under current circumstances, a major ground offensive…would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries", the draft resolution reads, according to a copy of the document seen by Middle East Eye.

The measure further states "the urgent need for a viable plan to ensure the protection of and prevent the displacement of civilians in the event of a major ground military offensive into Rafah".

Israel's political leaders have signalled that they intend to launch an offensive on the southern border town.

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz said on Monday that if Hamas didn’t return its hostages by the start of Ramadan, expected to start at the beginning of March, Israel's forces would launch an assault on Rafah.

Currently, around 1.4  million Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah, many of them having been displaced several times over, and are living in squalid conditions in encampments with little access to food, water or medicine.

The UN has warned an attack on the crammed city would lead to “a slaughter”.

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