The United States on Wednesday exercised its veto power at the U.N. Security Council, blocking a resolution put forward by Brazil calling for humanitarian pauses in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Palestine.
According to the resolution, the pauses are necessary to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, which has been bombarded by Israel since Hamas infiltrated into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,400 Israelis. The “retaliatory” bombardment of Israel has, thus far, claimed 3,400 Palestinians lives and injured 13,000 others.
The U.N. Security Council vote, supported by 12 states, was postponed twice as the U.S. worked to negotiate aid access to Gaza, maintaining the importance of diplomacy in the region. Additionally, two states—Russia and Britain—abstained from the vote, while the U.S. was the sole country to vote against it.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield defended the veto. “We are on the ground doing the hard work of diplomacy. We believe we need to let that diplomacy play out. Yes, resolutions are important. And yes, this council must speak out. But the actions we take must be informed by the facts on the ground and support direct diplomacy efforts. That can save lives. The council needs to get this right,” she said, in a marked contrast to growing global calls for an immediate ceasefire.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. has exercised its veto in support of Israel. Washington traditionally supports Israel, regardless of the situation. Its latest move has been met with criticism, with several ambassadors turning their back on the U.S. envoy in a token show of support for Palestine. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, meanwhile, accused the U.S. of hypocrisy and double standards in a likely reference to Washington’s stance on the Ukraine conflict compared to its actions regarding Israel.
China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun expressed his disbelief at the outcome, noting the U.S. had not opposed the measure during negotiations and had led members to believe it would be adopted. According to Greenfield, the U.S. exercised its veto because the resolution did not recognize Israel’s right to self-defense or hold Hamas responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The resolution also urged Israel, without naming it directly, to revoke its order for civilians and U.N. staff in Gaza to move to the southern part of the Palestinian enclave. Additionally, it condemned “the terrorist attacks by Hamas.”
Several states, including Pakistan, have sent humanitarian aid to Palestine over the past few days. However, it remains unclear how this relief would be provided to Palestinians, as all border crossings have either been closed off or are at risk of being bombed.