Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is brazenly straining at the leash to attack one and a half million Palestinians sheltering, if it can be called that, in Rafah. He has said that he will send ground troops to finish his mission, and will do so without the Americans if need be. He does not need to worry as the US is firmly behind him, weaponising Israel to bomb Gaza, and now to use starvation as a weapon as Professor Ilan Pappe has so eloquently said. It is a matter of time as the latest assault on the Al Shifa hospital has indicated, with all humanitarian hopes that Israel will stop short of a complete massacre being contradicted on a daily basis.

It is against this background that the Russia and China veto of the United Nations Security Council resolution moved by the US has to be seen. Algeria also opposed the resolution. After blocking all demands in the United Nations for a ceasefire, Washington came out for the first time with a text that used the word ‘ceasefire’ in the context of the sustained Israeli attack on Gaza that is being tried as a genocide in the International Court of Justice. The US has been broadcasting its apparent efforts to broker a deal with Hamas, but according to the countries that have been supporting the Palestinians in this war on innocent civilians , these are more in the nature of a fig leaf for America under attack for the gross violation of rights. And for supporting what many governments led by South Africa have described as clear cut genocide.

For five months the US vetoed all resolutions calling for an immediate ceasefire, and thereby a halt to the endless massacre of women and children, the bombing of hospitals and universities, and the deadly abandon with which Israel was proceeding to extinguish lives.The new resolution US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said would send a “strong signal”. But this was lost in verbiage, with the resolution not calling for a ceasefire and finding refuge in urging the UN to “determine the imperative for an immediate and sustained ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides, allow for the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance and alleviate human suffering.” This sentiment has been voiced by the US State Departments spokespersons in their press briefing, using similar or different words, and yet the weapon supply by the US to Israel has continued, as has the genocide.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN , Vassily Nebenzia said that it was an “extremely politicised” resolution and basically gave a green signal to Israel for a military operation in Rafah. He told the meeting that “this would free the hands of Israel and it would result in all of Gaza and its entire population having to face destruction, devastation or expulsion.” He said that the US Administration was more interested in throwing a bone to American voters, and that the resolution was altogether a “hypocritical spectacle.” China has taken the same view with the UN Ambassador Zhang Jun saying that it could lead to severe consequences as it backed the proposed Israel military operation in Rafah. Both Russia and China have pointed towards an alternative resolution that they said was being framed by other members and should be supported.

The US resolution is important only because for the first time the Americans have used the term ceasefire. But it falls short of all needed action - such as the return of the UN Relief Works Agency UNRWA to Gaza that is now facing imminent famine with children dying daily of starvation already. UNRWA at the instance of Israel and the US has had to pull out as its funding was cut. Two, it does not call for an immediate ceasefire but leaves it open to other conditions that may or may not be met such as the release of hostages, and the condemnation of Hamas at this stage.

Media reports suggest that a rival draft resolution favoured by the African states is in circulation but will not be voted upon. France has now stepped in to say that it will work with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates for yet another alternative resolution. The United Nations has emerged as a divided, fractious body without the ability or the will under the present system to stop wars and conflict and barbaric violence in the world. This, however, is all the world has.