Biden administration has come under fire from world leaders and human rights groups for vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The draft resolution, proposed by the United Arab Emirates last Friday, was backed by 13 of the 15 Security Council members but failed to pass after the US vetoed it and Britain abstained.
The UNSC clash comes as the latest outbreak of violence between Israel and Palestinian militant groups enters its third month. According to health officials, over 17,400 Palestinians have been killed and many more injured, alongside around 1,100 deaths on the Israeli side, since hostilities erupted in early October. Both sides have been accused of potential war crimes during the unrelenting bloodshed.
Palestinian Voices Decry “Complicity” In Civilian Deaths
Palestinian leaders reacted furiously to Washington’s move at the UN, which blocks efforts to halt Israeli strikes on Gaza for now. President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the veto as “aggressive and immoral,” arguing it makes the US “complicit” in the killings of Palestinian women and children. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also hit out, labeling the UN result “disastrous” and the US stance “a disgrace.”
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy at the UNSC meeting, criticized Security Council members who “stand against calling for an end to the destruction and displacement of the Palestinian people.” He underlined that “millions of Palestinian lives hang in the balance” amid the vetoes holding up urgent demands for a truce.
The political chief of Gaza rulers Hamas said the US obstruction exposes its “unethical and inhumane” support for Israel’s military campaign, warning it makes Washington complicit in potential “massacres” and “ethnic cleansing” during the ongoing strikes.
Israel expressed satisfaction at the US move to block the resolution, which it sees as failing to address Hamas rocket attacks that prompted its bombardment of Gaza. Its UN envoy said “a ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all hostages and the destruction of Hamas”, referring to soldiers captured in recent clashes.
Biden Faces Allegations Of “Callous Disregard” For Gaza Civilians
Firing back against Washington’s veto, human rights groups accused the Biden administration of an increasingly “callous disregard for civilian suffering”, warning its diplomatic backing risks US complicity in apparent war crimes.
Amnesty International’s secretary general Agnes Callamard argued the US stance “displays a callous disregard for civilian suffering in the face of a staggering death toll.” She emphasized American “has brazenly wielded and weaponized its veto to strongarm the UN Security Council,” severely denting its credibility.
Doctors Without Borders executive director Avril Benoit also hit out, stating “the US stands alone in casting its vote against humanity” through the veto. She underlined the move “stands in sharp contrast to the values it professes to uphold”, signaling “the lives of some people matter less than the lives of others.”
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said US weapons supplies and “diplomatic cover as Israel commits atrocities” shows Washington “risks complicity in war crimes” amid the ongoing Gaza bombardment. Its former executive director Kenneth Roth accused Biden of believing “pummeling Palestinian civilians in Gaza is accomplishing” Israeli security, questioning whether it actually counters Hamas.
International Critics Accuse Washington Of “Double Standards”
Alongside the barrage of criticism from human rights groups, America’s veto was also widely condemned by foreign governments seeking an end to the bloodshed in Gaza.
Iran’s foreign minister warned Biden’s decision threatens an “uncontrollable explosion” in regional tensions. He argued “as long as America supports the crimes of the Zionist regime and the continuation of war, there is a possibility of an uncontrollable explosion” across the Middle East.
China’s UN ambassador accused the US of “double standards” for claiming to care about Gazan lives while blocking the ceasefire push. He insisted “condoning the continuation of fighting while advocating for the prevention of spillover effects is self-deceiving.”
Moscow’s envoy claimed Washington has issued a “death sentence” to many more civilians, while France’s ambassador regretted the move leaves the Security Council unable “to complete its mandate.”
A host of Muslim-majority states also expressed outrage at the US veto. Turkey’s foreign minister said it shows “the American political system is now helpless on issues related to Israel.” Oman decried the “shameful insult to humanitarian norms”, while Malaysia’s prime minister described the decision as “beyond human sanity.”
The UAE, which presented the resolution, lamented the failure to unite on calling for a truce: “What message are we sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind halting the bombardment of Gaza?”
Britain Abstains From Ceasefire Vote Amid Calls For International Law Reform
While the US veto blocked the UN ceasefire resolution on Gaza, Britain also faced criticism by abstaining from the Security Council vote. London’s ambassador argued the draft text was imbalanced with “no condemnation of Hamas” militant rocket attacks.
She claimed Israel has a right to counter the extremist threat, but must abide by international law to prevent civilian loss of life. However, the UK stance earned rebukes from former world leaders and UN officials.
Helen Clark, New Zealand’s ex-prime minister, noted Britain joins the US in apparently being “unmoved by the shocking death and injury toll” in the Gaza violence. Craig Mokhiber, the former head of the UN human rights office in New York, also lamented the countries’ failure to back a truce “demonstrates further complicity in the genocide in Palestine.”
The clash has amplified calls for reform of the UN system, where five permanent Security Council members hold veto powers on resolutions. Critics argue this effectively allows nations like the US to unilaterally override the will of the wider international community.
Friday’s vote highlighted the difficulties of reaching consensus solutions on Gaza at the UN in the face of geopolitical fault lines. With Washington and its allies reluctant to demand an immediate ceasefire, there are fears the vetoes could set back mediation efforts and worsen civilian suffering as strikes continue.
Humanitarian groups are urging world leaders to rethink their approach and put focus on protecting civilians, not politics. But the mood remains tense, with little sign of compromise. Unless the diplomatic stalemate shifts, the Security Council looks unlikely to be able to lead urgent moves toward peace.
The US decision to veto the UN ceasefire resolution has sparked controversy and could have far-reaching implications. It represents a blow to multilateral conflict resolution efforts focused on minimizing loss of civilian life. Washington argues truces cannot be imposed on warring parties unilaterally. However, critics worldwide say its stance indefensibly obstructs humanitarian action amid a shocking civilian death toll in Gaza.
There are concerns US diplomatic backing gives Israel implicit cover to continue aggressive military tactics, undermining accountability. With peace looking remote as missiles rain down, the veto leaves the Biden administration facing troubling questions over its commitment to human rights and the rules-based international order.
Going forward, reformers believe the Security Council veto system requires urgent changes to prevent great powers unilaterally overriding the global community during crises. However, pushing through reforms faces monumental challenges. For now, with the US and allies blocking moves for an immediate Gaza ceasefire, the sad reality is further bloodshed appears inevitable.