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Reuters reported that Russia and China vetoed the UN resolution proposed by US for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Given that their apparent stance was pro-ceasefire recently (just like the demands of people being pro-Palestine), why have Russia and China now vetoed this ceasefire resolution?

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    "from the news" Please add a link to the news. "stance was pro-ceasefire recently" A link to that would also be nice. Just for making a nice question that also shines in the future. Mar 22 at 23:23

4 Answers 4

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The resolution did not explicitly call for a ceasefire.

Its phrasing was as follows:

Determines the imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides, allow for the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance, and alleviate humanitarian suffering, and towards that end unequivocally supports ongoing international diplomatic efforts to secure such a ceasefire in connection with the release of all remaining hostages;

If you analyze this sentence in legal terms, the first part of it is a perfunctory clause. The action clause instead supports diplomatic efforts to trade a ceasefire for the release of hostages.

This language effectively reinforces Israel's position of linking ceasefire and hostage release demands, with no obligation on either side to actually agree to such a deal, only to keep talking, which they already are.

Apparently, Russia and China want an unequivocal resolution that doesn't lead to a second round of debates on whether to call for a ceasefire, for what duration, on what terms, and to what extent.

Russia's ambassador said the U.S.-led resolution was "exceedingly politicized" and contained an effective green light for Israel to mount a military operation in Rafah

This has happened before, with non-US resolutions generally calling for an immediate ceasefire and getting vetoed by the US, and vice versa, US resolutions getting vetoed by others.

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France is also drafting its own version. But unless the US decides in favor of an unconditional ceasefire, or China and Russia a conditional one, any passable resolution at this point would have to sidestep the matter, addressing aid and other issues. There are lengthy negotiations in their preparation.

The previous draft resolutions' full text is as follows:

From these previous drafts, one can see that many perfunctory clauses, broadly reiterating the UN's values, are typical of UN resolutions. Only a some clauses, normally beginning with "Calls" or "Demands", are worded as guidance for action.

Edit: A new resolution has been passed on March 25. Russia and China supported it and the US abstained.

This resolution demands Israel to cease its offensive for a month and Hamas to release the hostages. This is how UN resolutions are normally worded: "A should do X and B should do Y", rather than as a call for negotiations.

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    Good answer, but keep in mind that there is limited if any direct enforcement mechanism on resolutions - absent armed coercion - so the exact legalese meaning may be less factually relevant than would be the case on a traditional contract. To a large extent this might have been "good enough" - and I suspect Russia and China are less concerned with Palestinian welfare than grandstanding at US expense. Mar 22 at 19:21
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica That's true. But this lack of enforcement is also why the UN can and often does use the strongest language possible, like calling for immediate permanent peace, knowing it gets toned down a lot in the implementation.
    – Therac
    Mar 22 at 20:21
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    Meh, a more charitable reading is that it proposed a ceasefire only after the hostages were released, i.e. that it was a conditional call for ceasefire. Anyway Russia and China said the wording was at the very least confusing. Mar 22 at 22:38
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    By the way, the U.S. resolution designated Hamas as a terrorist organization, which is unacceptable to many countries.
    – Hanshan
    Mar 23 at 12:51
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    The UN's site is extremely frustrating. For all the money they probably spend on the website, and all the verbiage they expend talking about said resolution and again, where is the &^#S@! full text? I can just imagine the vast teams of bureaucrat-programmers in charge of this. Mar 23 at 17:27
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The ceasefire proposal was conditional and required Hamas to release the hostages first. Sides that voted against demand the ceasefire not to be conditional. As The Russian deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said (The Guardian):

the demand for an immediate ceasefire should not be conditional on the release of hostages or the condemnation of Hamas.

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    As usual, it would help to have the resolution's full text - damn press is soooo lazy in that regard - because if what you say is true, then it makes sense not to tie a temporary ceasefire to stop a famine to a hostage release. So we are all left guessing which country is being the least deceitful in their biased interpretation of an unseen text. Mar 23 at 17:16
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica - I don't think either side is being deceitful in their desire for a ceasefire on terms that suit their goals.
    – Valorum
    Mar 24 at 13:27
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China said the language was "ambiguous".

China’s representative, Zhang Jun, said the draft “dodged the most central issue, that of a ceasefire” through its “ambiguous” language.

“Nor does it even provide an answer to the question of realising a ceasefire in the short term,” he added.

Xinhua quoted a bit more from their ambassador. An additional stated concern was that the US draft resolution didn't condemn the planned/announced Israeli operation in Rafah.

The ambassador pointed out that the U.S. draft was "unbalanced in many aspects," especially concerning Israel's recent repeated declarations of planning military attacks on Rafah.

"The draft did not clearly oppose such actions, sending a very wrong signal with serious consequences," the ambassador added.

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    The Chinese understand English better than the person who drafted the resolution, if the text quoted in Therac's answer is correct. "Determines the imperative..." what?
    – Wastrel
    Mar 23 at 14:36
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    @Wastrel: IIRC, the UNSC drafts get translated to the UN official languages before being voted on. China probably looked at the version in Chinese too. Mar 25 at 9:32
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Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Gaza proposed by the United States – with Russia’s envoy calling it “an effective green light for Israel to mount a military operation in Rafah.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/liveblog/2024/3/22/israels-war-on-gaza-live-the-choice-is-clear-a-2-state-solution

It seems that Russia believes that the resolution was worded in a way to give an effective green light for Israel to mount a military operation in Rafah. If the Russians believe this, then it wouldn't be surprising that China also believe that this is the case.

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