US vetoes United Nations Security Council vote on immediate ceasefire in Gaza

ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine's video report contains images that some viewers may find very distressing

The United States has vetoed a United Nations (UN) resolution backed by the vast majority of the Security Council demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The final vote is 13 members for, one abstention by the UK and one vote against - meaning the resolution has failed.

The US, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is the sole nation to have voted against the ceasefire.

Robert Wood, the US deputy ambassador, was critical of colleagues for introducing a “flawed” resolution that did not include the condemnation of Hamas for their attacks on October 7.

“For that reason, while the United States strongly supports a durable peace, in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support calls for an immediate cease-fire,” Mr Wood said.

Arab diplomats made direct appeals for Joe Biden’s administration to drop its opposition, but the US criticised the vote for failing to condemn Hamas’s bloodshed in Israel.

UK ambassador to the UN Dame Barbara Woodward said Britain backs “further and longer pauses” to get aid to Palestinians and to allow the release of Israeli hostages.

But she argued to the council that “we cannot vote in favour of a resolution which does not condemn the atrocities Hamas committed against innocent Israeli civilians” on October 7.

“Calling for a ceasefire ignores the fact that Hamas has committed acts of terror and is still holding civilians hostage,” she added, in explaining why Britain abstained.

James Denselow, Head of Conflict and Humanitarian at Save the Children UK, said: “Last night the UK abstained on the call for a humanitarian ceasefire.

"The UK government must now step up and do everything it possibly can to prevent children starving to death in Gaza. History will not forget or forgive those who failed to act in the face of this intolerable suffering.“

The council first called the emergency meeting to hear from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who for the first time invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, which enables a UN chief to raise threats he sees to international peace and security.

He warned of an “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza and urged the council to demand a humanitarian cease-fire.

Gaza is at “a breaking point,” he said, and desperate people are at serious risk of starvation.

Guterres said Hamas’ brutality against Israelis on October 7 “can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.

Israel’s more than two-month military campaign has killed more than 17,400 people in Gaza - 70% of them women and children - and wounded more than 46,000, according to the Palestinian territory’s Health Ministry.

Reporters raise their hands to ask questions as officials attend a news conference about the Israel-Hamas war on December 8, 2023. Credit: AP

The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.

Meanwhile, at least 130 hostages are still being held by Hamas in Gaza, as the families of the captives continue to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for help in their recovery.

A Palestinian representative at the meeting said it was "a terrible day for the security council", adding that "humanity must prevail".

"Children will be killed, orphaned, wounded, disabled for life," he said.

"Not by mistake, but by design, because the killers have no regard whatsoever for Palestinian life, from the cradle to the grave and beyond," he added.

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