Top NewsIsrael cancels Washington meeting after Gaza ceasefire vote

Israel cancels Washington meeting after Gaza ceasefire vote

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  • By Christy Cooney
  • BBC News

Israel has canceled a meeting in Washington after the United States refused to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The resolution, which called for the release of all hostages, followed several failed attempts at similar measures after the October 7 attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the US of “abandoning” its previous policy.

The uproar comes amid calls for urgent action to avert famine in Gaza.

Since the start of the conflict, the United States has used its veto power to block three Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire or ceasefire. Two more have been vetoed by both Russia and China.

On Monday, the US abstained on a resolution calling for an “immediate” ceasefire for the entire month of Ramadan – two weeks – and the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages”.

The other 14 members of the council, including the UK, voted in favour, meaning the resolution passed.

Following the vote, Mr Netanyahu countered that the resolution did not make the ceasefire conditional on the release of the hostages, as argued by the US and Israel.

Israel believes Hamas and its allies are still holding 130 hostages in Gaza, 33 of whom are presumed dead.

“Today's resolution gives Hamas hope that international pressure will force Israel to accept a cease-fire without releasing our hostages, thereby undermining efforts to free the war-torn hostages,” Mr Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Israeli and US officials were due to meet to discuss Israel's planned offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where some 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge fleeing fighting elsewhere in Gaza.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said publicly that the ground operation in Rafah risks killing more civilians and is “not the way” to defeat Hamas.

Responding to the Israeli decision, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said it was “disappointing”, but reiterated the US view that “a major ground attack in Rafah was a huge mistake”.

He added that scheduled meetings between Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will go ahead as planned.

Yair Lapid, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, criticized Mr Netanyahu's decision, describing the episode as “unnecessary” and saying Mr Netanyahu was “irresponsible”.

“Bad for Israel. Bad for security, bad for the economy,” he X said earlier on Twitter.

“Sometimes you have to say 'no' to the Americans. Israel is truly a free country and we don't need anyone's permission to defend ourselves. [But] Better to keep fights in closed rooms.”

UN UN Security Council Resolutions It is widely considered to be legally binding on member states, although the US does not consider Monday's vote binding on Israel.

Mr Gallant has said Israel will not end the war while hostages are being held in Gaza. The hostages were taken when Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

“After six months, 100,000 Palestinians killed and maimed, two million displaced and famine, this council finally demanded an immediate ceasefire,” he said.

Hamas welcomed the vote and said it was “ready to engage in an immediate prisoner exchange process that would lead to the release of prisoners on both sides.”

Negotiations continue between Israel and Hamas representatives through mediators in Qatar. A deal to release 40 Israeli hostages in exchange for 800 Palestinian prisoners will now be proposed, according to reports.

image source, UK Ministry of Defence/ PA

image caption,

British aid was dropped from RAF aircraft over Gaza on Monday

Monday's decision came amid growing concern over the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Last week, Mr Blinken warned that Gaza's entire population was experiencing “severe food insecurity”.

In Gaza's two northern governorates, famine is expected by May, unless aid flows into the region are increased, the UN's World Food Program said.

Following Monday's vote, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the resolution “must be implemented” and that “failure is inexcusable”.

Early on Tuesday, the British government announced that it had carried out its first airstrike in Gaza.

The Royal Air Force drop contained 10 tons of supplies: water, rice, cooking oil, flour, canned goods and baby formula.

It has repeatedly called on Israel to allow more aid through Gaza's ports and to open more land crossings into the border.

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