As was widely expected, the United States rejected an attempt by the Arab League to push a legally-binding resolution through the United Nations Security Council calling for Israel to immediately halt its attacks on the Gaza Strip. As a permanent member of the council, the United States can veto any resolution, and has traditionally done so on Israel’s behalf.
The resolution, proposed by Libya, calls for “an immediate ceasefire and for its full respect by both sides.” It also calls on Israel to abide by its obligations under the Geneva Convention with regard to the protection of civilians in time of war. Before it was rejected by the United States it had already been considerably watered down, removing a clause calling for Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and stop the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
But while the United States blasted the resolution as “unbalanced” and “one-sided,” it seems unclear if they would have supported any resolution calling for an end to the war at a time when Israel seems committed to keeping it going. US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad claimed the United States was working “very hard “for an immediate ceasefire, but that it didn’t believe Hamas would end its attacks. Khalilzad instead says the parties involved should agree to a ceasefire and then take it to the Security Council “if necessary.”
But while Hamas has expressed a willingness to talk about a ceasefire, Israel is virtually locked in to a policy of further escalation, insisting any ceasefire would only grant Hamas legitimacy. The United States’ “very hard” work seems to consist of little more than respecting Israel’s wishes on the matter and preventing the United Nations from doing anything that might jeopardize its war.