On Friday, Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs, explained the US vote on the draft proposed by the UAE on the situation in Gaza in the United Nations Security Council.
Wood started his remarks: "Colleagues, despite a rushed process and lack of appropriate consultation by the resolution’s authors, the United States engaged in good faith on this text. We proposed language with an eye toward a constructive resolution that would have reinforced the life-saving diplomacy we have undertaken since October 7; increased opportunities for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza; encouraged the release of hostages and the resumption of humanitarian pauses; and laid a foundation for a durable peace."
"Unfortunately, nearly all of our recommendations were ignored. And the result of this rushed process was an imbalanced resolution that was divorced from reality, that would not move the needle forward, on the ground, in any concrete way. And so, we regretfully could not support it," he pointed out.
He expressed that the resolution declined to condemn Hamas over the events of October 7.
The US Ambassador also highlighted: "Equally disappointing is that the authors declined to add language reaffirming that the ICRC must be permitted to access and provide medical treatment to the hostages still held by Hamas."
"The resolution also fails to encourage a resumption of humanitarian pauses, to allow for the release of hostages and an increase of aid. This formula has worked. It could resume very quickly, if Hamas agreed to release women and civilian hostages."
Wood also noted: "This text also failed to acknowledge that Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism, consistent with international law. This is a right to which all states are entitled," continuing: "As I stated earlier today, no country could or should tolerate what Hamas did on October 7. If any of our own countries had been attacked in this way, we would all expect this Council to reaffirm our right to protect our citizens."
He also commented on the calls for an unconditional ceasefire.
"I explained in my remarks this morning why this is not only unrealistic but dangerous: it would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on October 7," Wood said.
The Ambassador continued: "As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, any ceasefire is at best temporary, and is certainly not peace. And any ceasefire that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza would deny Palestinian civilians the chance to build something better for themselves.
For that reason, although the United States strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war."
On the scenes from Gaza, he described: "Like you, I am heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths of many thousands of civilians, including children. Every innocent Palestinian life lost is a tragedy that rips apart families and communities.
It goes without saying that the United States supports the renewal of humanitarian pauses, to enable the release of and the provision of additional aid, even as we seek an end to this war not only for one day or one week, but forever."
He renewed US intention to continue the diplomatic role, saying: "The United States will continue the hard work of diplomacy. To free hostages. To increase protection of civilians. To expand humanitarian aid. And to create an opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side in peace and security.
As well, we need to redouble our collective efforts to surge humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people and create conditions so that humanitarian assistance can reach people who need it, who are in desperate need of food, of water, of shelter. We are working toward that every day, with Israel, Egypt, the UN, and others."
On the two-state solution, he highlighted: "As President Biden reiterated last week: “a two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the long-term security of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.”
We will continue to work towards this goal because as Secretary Blinken has said, “that is the only way to ensure lasting security for a Jewish and democratic Israel, the only way to ensure that the Palestinians achieve their legitimate aspirations for a state of their own.”