The US vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution on Friday that demanded an immediate cease-fire to halt the ongoing bloodshed in the Gaza Strip as the death toll continues to mount.
The text, which was co-sponsored by nearly 100 UN member states, received the support of 13 Security Council members. The United Kingdom, which, like the US, is a permanent council member with veto power, abstained.
The draft resolution called for all parties to the conflict to adhere to international law, particularly the protection of civilians, demanded an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, and called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report to the council on the cease-fire's implementation.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which introduced the draft, said it worked to expeditiously complete the resolution due to the mounting number of dead over the 63-day war.
Guterrres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter on Wednesday for the first time since he assumed the organization's top post in 2017, appealing for the establishment of a cease-fire and saying the current conditions in Gaza are making it impossible for "meaningful humanitarian operations" to be conducted.
After the US killed the draft text, Mohamed Abushahab, the UAE's representative, lamented its failure, saying "regrettably, and in the face of untold misery, this council is unable to demand a humanitarian cease-fire."
"Let me be clear: against the backdrop of the Secretary General's grave warnings, the appeals by humanitarian actors, and the world's public opinion, this council grows isolated. It appears untethered from its own founding document," he said.
"The disappointing outcome of this vote will not deter us from continuing to implore council members to act and bring the violence in Gaza to an end. The council must unite and act to end this war, and the UAE will continue to insist it does," he added.
"We take note of the results in the Security Council. The Secretary-General's determination to push for a humanitarian cease-fire and the UN's humanitarian efforts in Gaza will continue," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Anadolu in a statement.
Robert Wood, the US representative to the UN, said the Biden administration exercised its veto power because a cease-fire would have allowed Hamas to remain in control of Gaza.
"As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, any cease-fire is at best temporary and is certainly not peace. And any cease-fire that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza will deny Palestinian civilians the chance to build something better for themselves," said Wood.
"For that reason, although the United States strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support this resolution's call for an unsustainable cease-fire that will only plant the seeds for the next war.
Over 17,000 people have been killed in Gaza amid relentless Israeli shelling and airstrikes, according to official figures from Gaza authorities. Women and children constitute about 70% of all those who have died, with more than 46,000 others wounded. Roughly 1.8 million Palestinians have been internally displaced.
Israel began its war in retaliation for the Palestinian group Hamas's Oct. 7 cross-border attack, in which over 1,200 Israelis were killed. Roughly 240 other Israelis were taken back to Gaza as hostages.
A weeklong truce saw the release of about 100 hostages and allowed badly needed humanitarian assistance to enter the Strip, though at levels that paled in comparison to the time prior to the war. After the truce expired on Dec. 1, assistance again drew down to a mere trickle compared to the requisite needs in Gaza.
Guterres earlier Friday warned the Security Council that the humanitarian support network in Gaza is facing "total collapse," and if it were to fail, there would be "devastating consequences" for the region and would result in "a complete breakdown of public order and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt."
"I fear the consequences could be devastating for the security of the entire region," he told the Security Council ahead of the vote on the draft resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire to end the hostilities.
"The risk of collapse of the humanitarian system is fundamentally linked with a complete lack of safety and security for our staff in Gaza and with the nature and intensity of military operations, which are severely limiting access to people in desperate need," he added.
The UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is currently facilitating aid for over 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza, including over 1.2 million people who have sought shelter in the organization's facilities.
The body has warned that the situation is nearing "a point of no return" in the coastal enclave, "where the blatant disregard for international humanitarian law scars our collective conscience."
At least 133 UNRWA workers have been killed, making the war in Gaza the deadliest for UN personnel in the international body's history, and 91 UNRWA facilities have been damaged during the conflict. Many of the UN workers were killed in their homes alongside their families.