UN Security Council rejects Russia-drafted resolution on Israel–Hamas conflict

"By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalises innocent civilians," says US ambassador

Representative image of UN Security Council in session (photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Representative image of UN Security Council in session (photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)


The UN Security Council has rejected a draft resolution proposed by Russia that called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza but made no mention of Hamas' attack on Israel, while a vote on a rival Brazilian text will be held on Tuesday, 17 October.

The 15-nation Council met on the evening of Monday, 16 October, to vote on the Russia-led draft resolution, the first such text to be considered by the UN amid the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The one-page draft resolution failed to garner enough votes and was not adopted by the Council, which is expected to meet again today to vote on a rival draft resolution circulated by Brazil, the Council president for the month of October.

The Russian draft called for an “immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire", the release of all hostages, access to aid and safe evacuation for civilians — and received only five votes in favour, from China, Gabon, Mozambique, Russia and the UAE.

France, Japan, the UK and the US voted against it, while Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta and Switzerland abstained from voting.

For a resolution to be adopted in the Council, it must receive at least nine votes in favour, with none of the five permanent members opposing or casting a veto.

The Russian resolution also strongly condemned all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, but made no mention of Hamas, which carried out an unprecedented assault on Israel on 7 October that killed 1,300 people and injured over 4,000.

Retaliatory strikes from Israel have left about 2,778 Palestinians dead and injured over 9,000 in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, home to about 2.3 million people.

US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in her explanation of her country's vote, said that Russia’s resolution was put forward without any consultations and makes no mention of Hamas.

She added that “by failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalises innocent civilians. It is outrageous, it is hypocritical, and it is indefensible". She said that Washington could not support Moscow's resolution, which in ignoring Hamas’ terrorism, dishonours its victims.

Thomas-Greenfield described Hamas’ audacious attack on Israel as the "worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust".

Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said before the vote that the draft resolution was a “purely humanitarian text".

"We shall not have any understanding if someone decides to not support it for political or egoistic geopolitical reasons," Nebenzia said.

Following the draft’s failure to be adopted, the Russian envoy said it was regrettable that the Council was once again "taken hostage by the egoistic ambitions of the Western bloc".

“Today, the entire world waited with bated breath for the Security Council to take steps in order to put an end to the bloodletting, but the delegations of the Western countries have basically stomped on those expectations,” he said.

“We believe that today's vote in the Security Council is very demonstrative — it clearly shows who is in favour of a truce to stop the indiscriminate bombing and provision of humanitarian assistance and who is still in favour of blocking a single common message from the Security Council for purely selfish interests and political interests,” the Russian envoy said.

The UK’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Barbara Woodward, also said her country cannot support a resolution which fails to condemn Hamas’ terror attacks. She said it was “unconscionable” for the Council to ignore the largest terror attack in Israel’s history.

“We remain clear too that all possible measures on the ground must be taken to ensure civilian casualties are minimised and to facilitate humanitarian aid,” Woodward said.

She said that the Russian draft and the process by which it was tabled do not constitute a serious attempt at a Council consensus.

Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour, on the other hand, told the Council that it should not send a signal that Palestinian lives do not matter.

“Don't dare say Israel is not responsible for the bombs it is dropping over their heads. Don't justify the killings. Don't blame the victim. What is happening in Gaza is not a military operation. It is a full-scale assault against our people. it is a massacre against innocent civilians,” he said.

Mansour said the humanitarian and health system in Gaza has collapsed and over 1 million people have been displaced.

He listed three urgent actions that must be taken, asserting that anything else would be “legally, morally and politically unacceptable". He called for: (1) stopping the assault on the Palestinian people immediately, (2) allowing immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout the Gaza Strip and (3) stopping the forced transfer of Palestinian people.

“Our conflict is a political one, not a religious one. That is what makes it solvable but it has an impact, given its significance regionally and internationally,” he said.

“If you do not want a regional spillover, an international spillover, stop the massacres. Start there, start now,” he added.

Israel’s permanent representative at the UN, Ambassador Gilad Erdan, said that the Security Council now stands at one of its most pivotal crossroads.

The first step that the Council must take before any calls for aid, calm or restraint is to designate Hamas as a “murderous terror organisation" just as it did with ISIS and al-Qaeda, Erdan held.

He insisted that the Security Council must also support Israel's right to defend itself — but supporting this right does not mean echoing empty words, he said.

“It means standing in solidarity with Israel in our rescue mission to obliterate Hamas’ terror capabilities. If Hamas is not obliterated, such atrocities will be repeated,” he added.

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas after it carried out a wave of attacks into Israel on 7 October.

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