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U.S. vetoes U.N. Security Council cease-fire resolution

A picture taken in Gaza City shows smoke billowing in the background during Israeli bombardment on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (-/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)  (Tribune News Service)
By Farnaz Fassihi, Cassandra Vinograd and Thomas Fuller New York Times

The U.S. on Tuesday cast the sole vote against a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have called for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, saying it feared it could disrupt hostage negotiations.

It was the third time the U.S. wielded its veto to block a resolution demanding a stop to fighting in Gaza, underlining the United States’ isolation in its continued, forceful backing of Israel.

Over four months of war, Israel has come under increasing international pressure over the scope and intensity of its campaign against Hamas in Gaza, with many leaders decrying the high civilian death toll.

Algeria’s U.N. ambassador, Amar Bendjama, lashed out at the United States on Tuesday, telling the council that the veto “implies an endorsement of the brutal violence and collective punishment inflicted upon” the Palestinians. He said that “silence is not a viable option; now is the time for action and the time for truth.”

The diplomatic maneuvering comes at a time when aid organizations are warning that urgent assistance is needed for a population suffering from severe malnutrition and the spread of infectious disease.

Thirteen Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, which was drafted by Algeria, while Britain abstained.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the resolution would jeopardize the United States’ continuing negotiation efforts with Qatar and Egypt to broker a deal that would release hostages from Gaza in exchange for a temporary humanitarian cease-fire. Those negotiations have stumbled, with neither Israel nor Hamas reaching a consensus on the terms for a deal.

Aid agencies were scathing in their criticism of the U.S. position. Avril Benoit, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the U.S., called the repeated blocking of cease-fire resolutions by the U.S. “unconscionable.”

“The United States at the U.N. Security Council is effectively sabotaging all efforts to bring assistance,” she said at a panel Tuesday.

Israeli and U.S. officials have argued that an immediate cease-fire would allow Hamas to regroup and fortify in Gaza, and reduce the pressure for making a deal to release hostages held in the territory.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.