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Security Council to vote Saturday on immediate Gaza ceasefire: sources

UN Security Council for first time demands 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire, US abstains
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Russia and China on Friday vetoed a US-led draft resolution at the Security Council on a ceasefire in Gaza, joining Arab countries in saying it did not pressure Israel with Moscow accusing Washington of a “hypocritical spectacle.”

The United States, Israel’s main ally which has vetoed previous ceasefire calls, put forward the resolution in which the Security Council would have supported “the imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire” and for the first time condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Russia and China exercised their vetoes, Algeria also voted against and Guyana abstained. The other 11 Security Council members voted in favor, including permanent members France and Britain.

Russia’s ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, said that the text would do nothing to rein in Israel, mocking Washington for speaking of a ceasefire after “Gaza has been virtually wiped off the face of the Earth.”

“We have observed a typical hypocritical spectacle,” he said.

Nebenzia said the US draft was intended to “play to voters and throw them a bone in the form of some kind of a mention of a ceasefire in Gaza.”

The resolution will “ensure the impunity of Israel, whose crimes are not even assessed in the draft.”

The draft had stopped short of explicitly demanding that Israel immediately end its campaign in Gaza. In the delicate language of Security Council resolutions, the draft “determines” the “imperative” of an “immediate and sustained” ceasefire.

It linked a ceasefire to ongoing talks, led by Qatar with support from the United States and Egypt, to halt fighting in return for Hamas releasing hostages.

China’s representative, Zhang Jun, said the draft “dodged the most central issue, that of a ceasefire” through its “ambiguous” language.

“Nor does it even provide an answer to the question of realizing a ceasefire in the short term,” he said.

On a visit to Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia and China “cynically vetoed” a resolution that had “strong support.”

“I think we were trying to show the international community a sense of urgency about getting a ceasefire,” Blinken told reporters.

French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking in Brussels immediately after the vetoes, said France would keep pushing an alternative resolution for a ceasefire.

The Security Council may consider another resolution late Friday or Saturday with an explicit call for an immediate ceasefire, said the Palestinian envoy, Riyad Mansour.

He said that Arab nations as a bloc backed Algeria in opposing the US text as it was not a “crystal-clear call for a ceasefire.”

The US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, indicated opposition to the alternative draft, saying it would jeopardize ongoing talks for the release of hostages.

“Let’s be honest — for all the fiery rhetoric, we all know that Russia and China are not doing anything diplomatically to advance a lasting peace or to meaningfully contribute to the humanitarian response effort,” she said.

Russia, China and Algeria said that the resolution should stop Israel from a threatened offensive in the city of Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians have sheltered.

The United States has publicly opposed the operation, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Friday after meeting Blinken to go into Rafah even without Washington’s support.

Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, said the vetoes of the US resolution meant that “terrorists can continue benefitting from this Council.”

“The Council’s decision to not condemn Hamas is a stain that will never be forgotten,” he said.

More than 1,160 people, mostly civilians, died on October 7 when militants infiltrated Israel in the country’s deadliest ever attack, according to Israeli official figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

Israel afterward vowed to eradicate Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Some 32,000 people, mostly civilians, have died, according to the Gaza health ministry, and the United Nations has warned of imminent famine in the territory.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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