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UN Security Council rejects Russia’s resolution on Gaza that fails to mention Hamas

The U.N.’s most powerful body, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, has failed to respond to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and to Israel response with retaliatory airstrikes

Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations attends the Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York, October 16, 2023.
Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations attends the Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York, October 16, 2023.ANDREW KELLY (REUTERS)

The U.N. Security Council rejected a Russian resolution Monday night that condemned violence and terrorism against civilians but made no mention of Hamas, whose surprise attack that killed 1,300 Israelis was the worst Jewish massacre since the World War II Nazi Holocaust.

Only four countries joined Russia in voting for the resolution — China, United Arab Emirates, Mozambique and Gabon. Four countries voted against it — the United States, Britain, France and Japan. The other six countries abstained. Adoption needs a minimum of nine “yes” votes in the 15-member council.

The U.N.’s most powerful body, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, has failed to respond to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and to Israel response with retaliatory airstrikes that have killed 2,750 and an order to Gazans in the north to head south to avoid an expected ground war. Britain’s U.N. ambassador, Barbara Woodward, said it would be “unconscionable for this council to ignore the largest terror attack in Israel’s history.”

With the Russian resolution rejected, she said negotiations would continue on a rival Brazilian resolution. It also “firmly condemns all violence and hostilities against civilians and all acts of terrorism.” But it “unequivocally rejects and condemns the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas” that started Oct. 7. It was unclear if the council would vote on the Brazilian resolution Monday night.

Before the vote on Russia’s draft, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia urged support for the resolution, saying it responds to the “unprecedented exacerbation of the current crisis,” with the number of people killed and injured “growing every hour.” He again condemned the deaths of civilians in Israel and Gaza.

After the vote, Nebenzia said that “the council once again has found itself a hostage to the selfish intentions of the Western bloc of countries” and failed to send a collective message aimed at de-escalating “the most serious explosion of violence over the past decades.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield countered that Hamas, whose purpose is to destroy Israel and kill Jews, unleashed terror on Israel but the Russian resolution didn’t mention the militant group, which controls Gaza. “By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians,” she said. “Hamas’ actions have led to the dire humanitarian crisis facing the people of Gaza.”

Thomas-Greenfield said civilians shouldn’t have to suffer for “Hamas’ atrocities” and she urged the council and the international community to help address Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, condemn Hamas and reaffirm Israel’s right to self-defense. “The bottom line is this: You cannot claim to stand with the Palestinians and their legitimate aspirations if you do not stand squarely against Hamas,” she said.

The Russian draft resolution would have called for “an immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian cease-fire " and strongly condemned “all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism,” with no mention of Hamas.

The Brazilian draft resolution calls for “humanitarian pauses” in addition to condemning Hamas and all violence and terrorist acts against civilians. Apparently expecting the defeat of its resolution, Russia earlier Monday proposed two amendments to the Brazilian draft resolution to be voted on separately after the vote on the Russian resolution but before the entire Brazilian resolution would be put to a vote.

One amendment would add a call “for an immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire.” The second proposed amendment “also unequivocally condemns indiscriminate attacks against civilians as well as against civilian objects in the Gaza Strip depriving civilian population of means indispensable for their survival, in violation of international law.” Nebenzia told reporters after the vote that the amendments would provide “balance” to the Brazilian draft resolution.

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan reminded the council that the United Nations was founded on the ashes of World War II, “the genocide of the Jewish people — and just over a week ago, we witnessed yet another attempt at Jewish genocide – the Nazi Hamas massacre of babies, mothers, fathers and the elderly.”

He said Hamas won’t stop until Israel is obliterated and so “Israel must obliterate Hamas first” for self-preservation. “So let me be clear. Israel is on a rescue mission, a rescue mission to save our hostages, a rescue mission to save our future and to save the people of Gaza from their savage tyrants,” Erdan said.

The Palestinian U.N. ambassador, Riyad Mansour, called Israel’s assault on Gaza a “massacre against innocent civilians,” who comprise the vast majority of Palestinians killed, including more than 1,000 children. “No one should forget that these are human lives, that Palestinian lives matter, too,” he said. “And no one should entertain the illusion that killing more Palestinians will ever make Israelis more secure.”

He said three things are needed: to halt the Israeli attack on Palestinians, allow unimpeded humanitarian access throughout Gaza, and “stop the forced transfer of our people.” He urged the council to take action now, “so no Palestinians or no Israelis are killed anymore.”

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