Malta abstains on Russian Security Council resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

UN Security Council fails to adopt Russia resolution calling for ceasefire in Gaza after text does not include condemnation of Hamas

A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (Photo: UN/Eskinder Debebe)
A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (Photo: UN/Eskinder Debebe)

The UN Security Council on Monday night failed to adopt a resolution proposed by Russia calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, with Malta abstaining.

The Palestinian territory has been ravaged by almost 10 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.

The draft text had called for a humanitarian ceasefire, release of all hostages, aid access, and safe evacuation of civilians - but did not condemn Hamas.

The Russian-led draft resolution received five votes in favour (China, Gabon, Mozambique, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates) and four against (France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States), with six abstentions (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta, and Switzerland).

For the Council to adopt a resolution, the proposal must receive at least nine votes in favour, with none of its five permanent members opposing or casting a veto.

The vote on Monday night came hours after Foreign Minister Ian Borg briefed the Maltese parliament on his ministry’s actions since hostilities started on 7 October.

He said Malta condemned Hamas’s actions, insisted Israel had a right to defend itself, called for the release of hostages and emphasised respect for international law. There is cross-party consensus on both the condemnation of Hamas’s actions and the need to address the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza as a result of Israel’s relentless bombing campaign.

The Security Council is expected later on Tuesday to vote on a second draft text proposed by Brazil that includes a condemnation of Hamas and calls for ‘humanitarian pauses’ rather than a ceasefire.

‘Selfish intention of western bloc’

Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN expressed regret over the Security Council’s failure to adopt the resolution, blaming the “selfish intention of the western bloc.”

He said that the Western countries’ delegations “basically stomped” on global hopes for the Council to put an end to violence.

“We are extremely concerned by the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the very high risk of the conflict spreading,” he said.

Resolution ignores Hamas’s terrorism

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative of the US, said that her country could not support the Russian draft resolution as it ignored Hamas’s terrorism and dishonoured victims.

“By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalises innocent civilians. It is outrageous, hypocritical and indefensible,” she said.

She condemned Hamas for killing civilians, taking hostages, including American citizens, and slaughtering families, and that Hamas’s actions led to the dire humanitarian crisis facing the people of Gaza.

“We cannot allow this Council to unfairly shift the blame to Israel and excuse Hamas for its decades of cruelty,” she said.


Israel carrying out massacre of civilians in Gaza

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, urged the Security Council to be guided by the principles of international law “with no exception”.

“Do not send the signals that Palestinian lives do not matter. Do not dare say Israel is not responsible for the bombs it is dropping on their heads,” he said.

Mansour noted that what is happening in Gaza is not a military operation, but a full scale assault against his people and a massacre against innocent civilians.

Hamas driven by Nazi ideology

Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, said that the Security Council stood at one of the most pivotal moments in its history, “a moment of truth, which will tell humanity if its very existence holds legitimacy.”

He said that every Council member should understand that Hamas is driven by an ideology “no different than the Nazis”, made clear in their charter that called for “obliterating” Israel. “Hamas is not a political organization, it is a terror organization,” he said.

Ambassador Erdan called on the Council to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, and to hold it fully and solely accountable for the situation in Gaza.