United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to “press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip and reiterated his appeal for a ceasefire.
Guterres made the remarks at the Doha Forum in Qatar, two days after the United States wielded its veto power during a Security Council emergency meeting to quash a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The resolution, proposed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), got 13 votes of favor, one vote of abstention from Britain and one veto from the United States.
“The preeminent forum for the peaceful resolution of international disputes is paralyzed by geostrategic divisions”, the UN news website quoted Guterres as saying during the Doha Forum, which brings global leaders together to discuss collective security and other challenges.
To push for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Guterres invoked on Wednesday Article 99 of the UN Charter on Gaza, a rarely exercised power. Through this article, the secretary-general drew the attention of the Security Council to the fact that what is happening threatens the maintenance of international peace and security.
“Regrettably the Security Council failed to do it but that does not make it less necessary. So, I can promise I will not give up,” Guterres told the Doha Forum.
U.S. VETO WIDELY CONDEMNED
The UAE-drafted resolution had garnered nearly 100 co-sponsors in less than 24 hours, demonstrating strong support for efforts to end the Israel-Hamas conflict and save the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The U.S. veto of the resolution was widely condemned.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday denounced the U.S. position as “aggressive and immoral, and a blatant violation of all humanitarian values and principles.”
In a statement, he said the move made the U.S. complicit with “war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.”
The Gaza-ruling Palestinian faction, Hamas, which Israel has announced at war with, described the U.S. administration as an “accomplice in the killing of the Palestinian people, through its political and military support for Israel.”
“We express great disappointment and regret that the draft has been vetoed by the U.S.,” said Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the UN after Friday’s UNSC meeting.
Zhang said that two months of fighting had already caused an unprecedented amount of death and destruction. “An immediate ceasefire is the overriding prerequisite.”
Dmitry Polyanskiy, first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the UN, said after the UNSC meeting on Friday that “today will become one of the darkest days in the Middle East” as the United States has once again blocked calls for a ceasefire.
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah expressed on Saturday his country’s deep regret over the use of the veto. He said that he fears “failure to pass the resolution will be considered a new license for the occupying forces to continue their killings, destruction, and displacement of the Palestinian people.”
The isolated stance of the U.S. also reflected a growing difference between Washington and some of its allies over Israel’s ongoing attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Nicolas de Riviere, permanent representative of France to the UN, said that he voted in favor of the draft resolution, adding that France will continue to commit to fully mobilizing the Security Council on all aspects of the crisis, whether it is security, humanitarian or political.
Ishikane Kimihiro, permanent representative of Japan to the UN, said his delegation voted in favor of the draft as the loss of all civilian life, whether Palestinian or Israeli, is tragic. He also expressed regret that the text had failed to be adopted.
Israel has been launching massive airstrikes and a ground offensive in Gaza in response to the Hamas Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel that killed around 1,200 and in which over 200 were taken hostage. The Palestinian death toll had risen to 17,997 as a result of Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip, according to figures released by the Hamas-run Health Ministry on Sunday.