US Abstains from UN Ceasefire Vote, Straining US-Israel Relations

The Biden administration’s decision to abstain from a United Nations resolution demanding a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas marked a significant departure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s expectations on Monday.

According to the Associated Press, the United States opted to abstain from the UN Security Council vote, allowing the ceasefire resolution to pass, despite pressure from Israel to veto it. This move, which came as tensions between the US and Israel have grown over humanitarian concerns in Gaza, marked the first time the Security Council called for an end to the months-long conflict.

Netanyahu had reportedly issued a warning to the Biden administration earlier in the day, threatening to cancel the visit of Israeli delegates to Washington D.C. if the US did not veto the resolution, as reported by The Times of Israel. The delegation, led by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, was intended to discuss ideas for expanding humanitarian aid in Gaza.

However, following the US abstention and the passage of the resolution, Netanyahu’s office called off the trip, describing it as a “clear retreat from the consistent US position in the Security Council since the beginning of the war.” The Israeli government expressed concerns that the abstention “gives Hamas hope that international pressure will allow them to get a ceasefire without releasing our hostages,” according to reports.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated on October 7, 2023, when Hamas militants launched an attack on Israel, resulting in casualties and the capture of hostages. While Israel has launched a ground invasion targeting Hamas leaders and seeking the return of hostages, the civilian death toll in Gaza has raised concerns.

President Biden has positioned himself as a supporter of Israel’s right to defend itself while also expressing concerns about civilian casualties. However, he has faced criticism from some Democrats over humanitarian conditions for Palestinians.

The abstention from the UN resolution comes after disagreements between Biden and Netanyahu over whether Israel should launch a ground offensive in Rafah, a city where displaced Palestinians have sought refuge. Netanyahu emphasized the need to eliminate threats in Rafah, while Biden’s national security adviser cautioned against a major ground operation.

The differing approaches highlight ongoing tensions between the US and Israel, as well as the challenges in addressing the complex dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.