UN Ceasefire Bid Weakened by US Abstention

British, French Diplomats "Stunned" as US Declined to Vote on Draft

The United Nations Security Council’s bid to halt the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip with a non-binding resolution calling for a durable ceasefire never had much momentum behind it, but as French and British diplomats scrambled to get the deal together amid repeated American threats to veto it, the fact that America was heavily involved in the drafting and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was openly supporting it seemed to auger well for the latest attempt to stem the rising death toll.

The bill passed, 14-0, but more important than all 14 of the nations that voted yes was the one that didn’t vote at all. Secretary Rice, acting on orders from President Bush, abstained from voting, explaining that while the United States supported the text of the deal, they could not vote for it because of their “special relationship” with Israel.

America’s decision to abstain stunned diplomats who thought American support was assured, and removed all pressure from the Israeli government to take the deal seriously. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promptly rejected the ceasefire, which Israeli officials complained put them on “equal footing” with Hamas (which is true in that both sides were urged to stop killing people).

After Israel’s continued attacks mooted the question of the UN resolution, Rice too echoed Israel’s sentiments, defending the war and saying the UN resolution she was defending just days prior was unacceptable because it equated Israel’s part in the war with Hamas’ and Hamas isn’t a member of the United Nations.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.