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U.S. Is Called Out Over Voting Against Gaza Ceasefire During the U.N. General Assembly

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Updated: | Originally published:

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Friday, putting forward a resolution for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Among the 15 members, the U.S. was the sole veto. 13 members moved in favor of a ceasefire, while the U.K. abstained from voting. Following on from that, the U.N. called an emergency special session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, in which all member states were eligible to vote on a resolution calling for a ceasefire. A total of 153 countries voted for a ceasefire, with only 10 member states—including the U.S.—voting against the resolution. Twenty-three countries, including Germany and the U.K., abstained.

The result was a significant shift from the last time the General Assembly voted on the matter. On Oct. 27, only 120 countries voted in favor of a “humanitarian truce,” while 14 countries voted against and 45 abstained. 

 The resolution is not binding but is seen as representative of world opinion and holds symbolic power.  

Some of the countries that pivoted include Australia, Canada, and Japan, which all obtained in October but voted in favor of the ceasefire in December. 

Australia is gravely concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. Human suffering is widespread and unacceptable,” said James Larsen, the country’s ambassador to the U.N. at the General Assembly meeting. “But such a ceasefire cannot be one-sided. Australia also supported the amendments proposed by Austria and the United States because we believe this resolution should have gone further by unequivocally condemning Hamas.” 

Many world leaders and prominent humanitarian organizations also criticized America's role in the Israel-Hamas war, especially since it used its veto power to block a ceasefire resolution at the Security Council.

What has been the reaction from global voices toward the U.S. vote?

Aid organization Doctors Without Borders led renewed criticism against the U.S. over its decision to vote against a Gaza ceasefire."Today, the majority of the world stood together to demand an end to this bloodshed and suffering in Gaza. The United States has once again voted to allow the carnage against civilians in Gaza to continue,” said DWB’s executive director, Avril Benoît.

“The U.S. is increasingly isolated in its steadfast support of a war that seems to have no rules and no limits, a war that Israel claims is focused on rooting out Hamas but that continues to kill large numbers of Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children.”

Benoît concluded: “For humanitarians to be able to respond to the overwhelming needs, we need a ceasefire now.”

Other major powers, including China and Russia have similarly criticized the U.S.

“Condoning the continuation of fighting while making references to the protection of women and children and human rights is hypocritical. All these once again show us what double standards are,” said Zhang Jun, the Chinese permanent representative to the U.N., on Dec. 9, amid backlash for the U.S. vetoing the U.N. resolution for a ceasefire. 

What the ambassadors said

During the General Assembly, Austria proposed an amendment to the resolution that would have deemed Hamas responsible for the taking of hostages and called for their “immediate” release. However, the amendment failed to get the two thirds majority vote in order to pass. 

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the representative for the U.S., introduced a more strongly worded amendment which stated that the U.N. “unequivocally rejects and condemns the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas.” This also failed to get the thirds vote needed to pass.

“There are aspects of this resolution that we do support. We agree that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire and requires urgent and sustained attention as civilians desperately need food and water and medical care,” said Thomas-Greenfield at the meeting. “But we also support speaking out with one voice to condemn Hamas’ actions on Oct. 7. Why is that so hard?”

The humanitarian situation in Gaza

Over 18,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its assault in Gaza following the Oct. 7 attacks, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The IDF has stated that they believe the death toll reported by Hamas is accurate, including the reports that approximately two thirds of those killed have been civilians. 1,200 Israelis were killed on Oct. 7, most of whom were civilians. The IDF has also reported that an additional 100 Israeli soldiers have been killed since Israel began its operation in Gaza.

Since the war began, the humanitarian situation has rapidly deteriorated. Over 85% of the population has been displaced and many are living in tents with communal toilet facilities and limited access to running water. 

Food is also in short supply. One Gazan twitter user, Muhammad Smiry, reported that the price of a bag of flour is now 400 shekels, the equivalent of $100. In 2022 before the war, a 110 lb bag of flour sold for 120 shekels ($35) in Gaza. 

Clean drinking water has become a “luxury” in the strip. “We don’t currently have running water,” Gazan journalist Maha Hussaini told The Guardian. “In order to bathe, we usually put water bottles in the sun to heat the water as we also don’t have cooking gas.” 

Medicine has also become in short supply, and doctors report having to amputate limbs that could have been savable and being forced to perform surgeries on patients without anesthetics.

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