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US Abstains From UN Gaza Resolution After Lobbying to Weaken It

“Biden is effectively running war crimes management for Israel,” said one foreign policy expert.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield abstains during a vote to approve a resolution calling for the "safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale" in Gaza at UN headquarters in New York, on December 22, 2023.

The United States on Friday abstained from voting on a U.N. Security Council resolution that it repeatedly stonewalled and lobbied to weaken in the face of intense international opposition as Israeli forces continue to kill hundreds of Palestinians daily.

The newly passed resolution — which was introduced by the United Arab Emirates — calls for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access.”

Thirteen Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution. Russia joined the U.S. in abstaining.

The resolutioncalls for “urgent steps… for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities,” language that’s weaker than an earlier draft’s call for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities.”

Also removed from the final version was language condemning Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on Palestinian civilians, tens of thousands of whom have been killed, wounded, or left missing during 77 days of Israeli onslaught.

The vote came just after Russia proposed an amendment that would have restored language calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” to the resolution. The U.S. vetoed the amendment.

Earlier this month, the U.S. vetoed a separate Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza cease-fire. That resolution was later approved by the U.N. General Assembly in a 153-10 vote.

“It is disgraceful that the U.S. was able to stall and use the threat of its veto power to force the U.N. Security Council to weaken a much-needed call for an immediate end to attacks by all parties,” Amnesty International secretary-general Agnès Callamard said in a statement.

“This is a much-needed resolution — all efforts to address the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza must be welcomed — but it remains woefully insufficient in the face of the ongoing carnage and extensive destruction wrought by the government of Israel’s attacks in the occupied Gaza Strip,” Callamard continued. “Nothing short of an immediate cease-fire is enough to alleviate the mass civilian suffering we are witnessing.”

“Given the staggering death toll — with more than 20,000 killed in over two months — and the horrifying scale of destruction and devastation in Gaza, this is simply unacceptable,” she added.

In a statement giving a “qualified welcome” to the resolution, Mary Robinson — a former U.N. high commissioner for human rights and Irish president who currently chairs The Elders — said: “Agreement on this weak and overdue U.N. Security Council resolution is better than another U.S. veto. But the test of the resolution’s success will be how many lives are saved.”

“The people of Gaza are facing starvation: they need food, not words,” she added. “Neither Hamas nor Israel have complied with the previous resolution agreed last month. If the Security Council is to be credible, its members must push harder for implementation of its decisions.”

Lamenting that the resolution “became increasingly meaningless” as U.S. President Joe Biden “managed to delete the call for suspension of hostilities,” Trita Parsi, co-founder and executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, said on social media Friday that “Biden’s changes will help ensure that Israel’s slaughter in Gaza continues while minimizing the U.N.’s insight into what increasingly appears to be a genocide.”

“Biden is effectively running war crimes management for Israel,” he added.

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