On October 16, the Russian Federation introduced a draft resolution at the UN Security Council (UNSC) calling for an “immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.” In hopes of getting it passed, they avoided placing blame on either Israel or Hamas. Twelve Arab nations and eight more majority Muslim nations endorsed it, as did Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
The Council voted that resolution down, with only five of the fifteen members—Russia, China, Mozambique, Gabon, and the United Arab Emirates—voting in favor. The US, UK, France and Japan voted against it, and the other six members of the Council—Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta, and Switzerland—abstained.
To pass, a UNSC resolution needs a supermajority, nine of 15 members, and no vetoes from the five permanent members, Russia, China, France, the UK, and the US.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield objected that the Russian resolution failed to condemn Hamas.
Brazil’s resolution for “humanitarian pauses”
Two days later, on October 18, in the aftermath of the shocking air strike on the northern Gazan Al-Ahli Hospital, Brazil put forth a resolution that called not for a ceasefire but simply for “humanitarian pauses to allow full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other impartial humanitarian organizations” and “establishment of humanitarian corridors and other initiatives for the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians.”
It also called for “rescission of the order for civilians and UN staff to evacuate all areas in Gaza north of the Wadi Gaza and relocate in southern Gaza.”
The Brazilian resolution condemned Hamas, presumably to win a US vote.
Russia introduced two amendments to Brazil’s resolution, one of which again called for a ceasefire, and another which condemned indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects in Gaza and the blockade depriving Gazans of “means indispensable to their survival,” meaning of course food, fuel, electricity, and water.
The Council voted both of Russia’s amendments down, but 12 of its 15 members—three more than the supermajority—voted in favor of Brazil’s resolution, with Russia and the UK abstaining.
Lacking the support even of its ally France, the US then exercised its veto from hell. This time Thomas-Greenfield, speaking as a true American exceptionalist extremist, said that President Biden was in Israel and that US diplomatic efforts should supersede the Council’s efforts. Even though the resolution condemned Hamas, she complained that it failed to mention Israel’s right to defend itself. Like Biden speaking in Israel and then in the Oval Office, she gave a green light to Israel.
The representatives of the Permanent Observer State of Palestine and the State of Israel were invited to speak after the vote on Brazil’s resolution. Here is an excerpt of remarks made by Palestinian Ambassador Riyad H. Mansour:
“The whole world is watching. They’re watching us. The events of the last 10 days may shape the next 10 years in our region and beyond. What happens next is decisive.
“If anyone thinks this is a situation under control, for which you can plan and implement, they are making false and irresponsible assumptions. This is the kind of war where you know how it starts, and have no clue how it ends. Until now, it can be stopped, and it should be stopped immediately. Any further delay is a risk no one should take. The Council should have met today to heed the call of the Secretary General, of religious leaders around the world, including the Pope, of the Arab states, of the Muslim countries, of the Global South, of the overwhelming number of states around the world, of billions of people, including the millions who marched in your streets. Stop the bloodshed. Stop it now. Stop the bloodshed. Stop it now. Listen to them.
“But it has not heeded these goals. It has not upheld international law unequivocally, equally, and responsibly. And in the next few hours, more Palestinians will be killed. Tensions in the region will rise to new dangerous levels. Anger and resentment will explode. Each one of us will be asked what we did when all of this was happening. All will be asked what they did to prevent what will happen next.”
Here is an excerpt of remarks by Israeli Ambassador Gilad Menashe Erdan:
“Hamas deliberately targets civilians and massacres children when given the chance. This makes Hamas a terror organization no different than ISIS. They do not believe in dialogue. They don’t want a dialogue, not in political solutions. They only believe in exterminating Jews and annihilating the Jewish state, and nothing can change their genocidal ideology. They don’t even recognize the existence of international law.
“To all those who are talking about a two-state solution and international law: There is only one solution to curing a cancer, and it is the evisceration of every cancerous cell, just as was done with ISIS and al Qaeda, complete obliteration. This is the only way to ensure such atrocities will never be repeated.”
. . .
“This council should be purely focused on condemning the Hamas terrorists, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, and demanding from Hamas to immediately and unconditionally return our hostages. Israel’s rescue mission can end very quickly if Hamas terrorists turned themselves in and released all of the hostages. But this rescue mission will not end until Israel ensures that Hamas atrocities can never be repeated again. And there is no way to ensure this other than the obliteration of Hamas’s capabilities.”
After the remarks of the Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors, other ambassadors who had asked to speak were given the floor. They included those of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Oman, Pakistan, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, and the European Union, with Jordan speaking on behalf of the UN’s Arab Group.
The Arab and other majority Muslim nations, and South Africa, condemned the attack on the Al-Ahli Hospital, holding Israel responsible. With some variations, they said that the conflict began not on October 7, but with Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestine. They demanded the lifting of the siege and the end of war crimes, including the forced transfer of Palestinians from North to South Gaza, and the end of genocide against the Palestinian people. They also demanded an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem.
The European Union’s Ambassador Olof Skoog spoke last. He condemned Hamas and expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself. He also deplored the destruction and death at the Al-Ahli Hospital without assigning blame and pledged humanitarian support to Gaza.
As of this publication, nearly 6000 are reported dead in Gaza, including thousands of children, and the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank says that 91 Palestinians have been killed there.
Parents in Gaza are reported to be writing their children’s names on their legs to identify them in case they are separated or killed.
Ann Garrison is a Black Agenda Report Contributing Editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann(at)anngarrison.com.