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US vetoes call for immediate Gaza ceasefire at UN

The United States has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, instead proposing its draft resolution urging a temporary halt in fighting.

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The original ceasefire resolution, proposed by Algeria, was backed by 13 of the 15 Security Council members. However, the US ambassador said calling for an immediate ceasefire now would “jeopardize” negotiations between Israel and Hamas to end the conflict. The UK abstained.

Washington’s resolution calls for a “temporary ceasefire as soon as practicable” on the condition that all hostages are released. It also urges removing barriers to humanitarian aid entering Gaza. The Security Council has not yet voted on the US draft.

The US move brought sharp criticism from allies and Palestinians. Algeria said the Council “failed once again” in not sending a “strong message” to Palestinians. The Palestinian UN representative called it “absolutely reckless and dangerous.” France, Mexico, Ireland and other nations also expressed regret.

At the same time, the US resolution warned Israel against launching a major ground offensive on the Gaza border city of Rafah, saying it would cause more civilian harm and displacement. Over a million displaced Palestinians have crammed into Rafah seeking shelter. Israel has threatened an imminent manoeuvre there unless Hamas releases all hostages.

This marks the first time the US has called for even a temporary ceasefire at the UN. A former US envoy said it reflects the Biden administration’s “frustration level” with Netanyahu ignoring pleas to reduce casualties. The White House is also under pressure from Arab Americans on Gaza deaths.

China condemned the US veto, saying it sent the “wrong message” and effectively gave Israel “a green light to the continued slaughter.”

The American move risks further straining efforts to halt killings as fighting rages. UN officials warn an assault on Rafah could lead to “slaughter” of civilians “unparalleled in its brutality.”

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