Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia before UNSC vote on a Russia-proposed amendment to a draft resolution on humanitarian access to Gaza


Over the past few days, Security Council and, for that matter, the entire world has come to witness another shameful (for the wont of a better word), cynical, and irresponsible behavior of the United States, who used a variety of tools to sabotage a UNSC decision on Gaza in an attempt to evade responsibility for another veto.

All this time, global media and the public have been wondering why keep postponing the vote on the UAE-proposed draft resolution, which has already been put "in blue"? The answer is very simple - the US has been delaying the negotiation process on various pretexts, evading normal transparent talks. Instead, they resorted to their favorite tactics of pressure, blackmail and "arm-twisting" in order to give Council members a last-minute ultimatum - the Council meekly accepts a Washington-friendly text or else the United States blocks adoption of whatever other product.

The draft that has been put to a vote was already toothless from the very start. But, respecting the initiative of our Arab friends and their needs, we were prepared to support it. The United States actually took over the drafting and usurped the work on the text while "twisting the arms" of the delegations of regional states in behind-the-scenes contacts. Under American pressure, the text kept losing important provisions with each new edition. As a result, the version that was put to a vote today turned out to be extremely emasculated, including in OP4, which stipulates a mechanism to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza and ensure its monitoring.

But worst of all, the efforts of the US delegation made it possible for the draft resolution to include an element that is extremely dangerous for the future of Gaza. Instead of language about an immediate cessation of violence, the OP2 contains an ambiguous phrase calling on the parties to "create conditions for a cessation of hostilities". Colleagues, the destruction, displacement or eviction of the population of Gaza – if interpreted cynically, which is precisely how Israel will interpret it – will also create conditions for a cessation of hostilities. By subscribing to this, the Council will effectively give the Israeli military a complete free hand to further "mop up" the Strip. And anyone who votes in favor of the text in this edition will be held responsible for it, effectively becoming an accomplice to the destruction of Gaza.

Besides, the draft lost any reference to condemnation of indiscriminate attacks against civilians. What signal will it send to the global community? That Security Council gives a “green light” to Israel to commit war crimes?

I would like to ask a question to members of the Council. Why are we gathered in this chamber? Is it to rubber stamp a decision convenient to Washington, or is it to fulfill our mandate to maintain international peace and security?

It is our hope that number two is the answer. That we are gathered here to give this Council the opportunity to keep its face and its reputation which has shattered in the past few days. So we suggest bringing back to the draft resolution the words about a cessation of violence from the initial draft in blue.. 

Russia proposes the following oral amendment to OP2. Replace «and in this regard calls for urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered and expanded humanitarian access and to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities» with «and in this regard calls for an urgent suspension of hostilities to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and for urgent steps towards a sustainable cessation of hostilities». This language was in the draft that sponsors initially put into blue for a vote. By all means, this is not a perfect way to put it. You are all well aware that from the very beginning Russia has consistently defended the need for an immediate ceasefire. This is what the parties were recently called for by the General Assembly in its resolution. However, language that we propose now is “the lowest common denominator" for virtually all members of the Council.

Let the vote on this amendment be the "moment of truth" and show who in the Security Council wants to stop the violence in Gaza and save civilian lives, and who is motivated by opportunistic considerations.

Colleagues, the way OP2 is formulated now is the main thing the US needs from this resolution – use the sly phrase that contains the words "creating conditions for a cessation of hostilities" to give Israel a free hand for further limitless and unrestrained indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza's civilian infrastructure and civilian population.

We call on the delegations to vote in support of the language in OP2 for cessation of violence that we propose now and the delegation of the UAE proposed initially.

Thank you.

Video of the statement