Both the United States and Russia abstained, but for opposite reasons
The UN Security Council has finally adopted a resolution calling for speeding up aid deliveries to desperate Palestinian civilians in Gaza, after the United States delayed the vote for days and pushed the members to strip the text from any direct calls for a ceasefire or suspension of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
The 15-member council backed the watered-down text in a 13-0 vote on Friday, with both the United States and Russia abstaining. Just prior to the final vote, the US used its veto power to vote down a Russian amendment that sought to reintroduce the call for an “urgent suspension of hostilities,” instead of a vague plea to “create conditions” for eventual peace.
Moscow’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said that Russia was ready to support the original UAE-proposed draft, out of “respect for our Arab friends,” even though the text “was already toothless from the very start.” However, resorting to its “favorite tactics of pressure and blackmail,” Washington made sure the resolution was completely “neutered,” the Russian diplomat stated.
“The United States actually took over the drafting and usurped the work on the text while ‘twisting the arms’ of the delegations of regional states in behind-the-scenes contacts. Under American pressure, the text kept losing important provisions with each new edition,” Nebenzia told the council.
The vote on the UAE-sponsored draft was supposed to take place on Monday, but the delegations spent the entire week trying to avoid a third US veto. Washington previously vetoed two Security Council resolutions on Gaza, on October 18 and December 8.
Nebenzia went on to accuse the US of watering down the text “to give Israel a free hand for further limitless and unrestrained indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure and civilian population.” The adopted resolution was stripped of a request for the UN to monitor humanitarian relief, leaving full control over all aid coming into Gaza in Israel’s hands.
Before abstaining and finally letting the measure pass, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council, is was “hard to overstate how urgent this is… this resolution speaks to the severity of this crisis, and it calls on us all to do more.”
The Palestinian UN envoy said the resolution was still a “step in the right direction,” even though it took the Security Council some 75 days “to finally utter the words ‘cessation of hostilities’.”