Updated Mar 22, 2024 - World

U.S. Gaza ceasefire resolution vetoed by China, Russia at UN Security Council

UNSC chamber

The UN Security Council debates the Gaza war in February. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Russia and China on Friday vetoed a U.S. draft UN Security Council resolution that called for an "immediate and sustained ceasefire" in Gaza along with "the release of all remaining hostages" held by Hamas.

Why it matters: This was the fourth time since the war began in October that the Security Council failed to agree on a resolution calling for a ceasefire. This time, the dispute was over the U.S. insistence on linking the ceasefire call to a hostage deal and condemnation of Hamas, rather than the unconditional ceasefire resolution demanded by Russia and China.

Zoom in: Eleven member states voted in favor of the resolution, one abstained, and Algeria, China and Russia opposed it.

Split screen: The diplomatic wrangling in New York takes place as negotiators from Israel, Hamas, Egypt, Qatar and the U.S. are still trying to hash out a hostage deal in Doha.

  • CIA Director Bill Burns is expected to join the talks on Friday, along with the Qatari prime minister and intelligence chiefs of Israel and Egypt.
  • Shortly before the UN Security Council convened, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet.
  • Blinken warned Netanyahu that Israel's security and its place in the world are in peril due to Israel's strategy in Gaza, and "you might not realize it until it's too late," a source familiar with the meeting told Axios.

Behind the scenes: U.S. and Israeli officials said the Biden administration had been working for weeks on mobilizing support for its draft resolution.

  • In order to garner more votes, the U.S. strengthened the paragraph in the draft resolution that referred to the ceasefire.
  • The U.S. draft resolution also included strong language expressing concern about a possible Israeli ground offensive in Rafah.

Friction point: Before the vote, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. believes the parties are close to a hostage deal that will lead to a ceasefire.

  • "We are not there yet," she told the council.
  • The ambassador added that the resolution could pressure Hamas to take the deal, which would lead to a six-week ceasefire.
  • The Russian ambassador, however, accused the U.S. of blocking the Security Council from passing a ceasefire for months.

What they're saying: "Washington's actions have cost the lives of 32,000 Palestinians," said Vasily Nebenzya, Russia's ambassador to the UN.

  • Nebenzya argued that the U.S. text was only aimed at buying more time for Israel to invade Rafah.
  • After the vote, Thomas-Greenfield addressed the council again and criticized Russia and China for refusing to condemn Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack.
  • "They also didn't want to vote in favor of a U.S. draft resolution and would rather that the U.S. fail," she said.

What's next: The Security Council is expected to vote on an alternative resolution put forward by eight member states, calling for an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan to lead to a permanent ceasefire.

  • That text also demands the release of all hostages without linking it to the ceasefire.

Yes, but: The U.S. is expected to veto.

  • Thomas-Greenfield said the alternative text, which doesn't link a ceasefire with the release of hostages, could sabotage the negotiations taking place in Doha.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with addition details and comments from the meeting.

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