The aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on November 21, 2023Leo Correa/AP

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On Friday, the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution backed by nearly every other member of the Security Council calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

The U.S. was the lone veto in the 13-to-1 vote; Britain abstained.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood said that a ceasefire is “not only unrealistic but dangerous: it would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on October 7.” In response to Hamas’ attack, which killed 1,200 people, “Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism, consistent with international law.”

The war in Gaza, now entering its third month, has killed more than 17,000 Palestinians and displaced millions. The United Nations and other aid groups are warning that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is escalating further as civilians struggle to access basics, like food and medicine. “By continuing to provide diplomatic cover for the ongoing atrocities in Gaza, the US is signaling that international humanitarian law can be applied selectively—and that the lives of some people matter less than the lives of others,” said Doctors Without Borders USA’s Executive Director Avril Benoit.

After the veto, foreign ministers representing several Arab countries met with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and “expressed deep dissatisfaction with the inability of the Security Council to carry out its responsibilities,” the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, called the veto “a mark of shame that will follow the United States for many years,” according to the New York Times

Israeli ambassador Gilad Erdan, meanwhile, thanked the United States for its support on social media, saying, “A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.”

While American officials have urged Israel to do more to limit civilian deaths and displacement, the U.S. continues to support Israel’s war efforts. On Saturday, the Department of Defense announced approval of the sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel, bypassing the congressional review typically required for arms sales to other countries. According to the announcement, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken determined that “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale to the Government of Israel.”

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