The United States’ decision to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution that called for an immediate cease-fire in the war in Gaza has sparked frustration among Arab governments that are pushing to end the conflict, with one group of regional officials expressing “deep dissatisfaction” over the move.
Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority — which Washington and others have floated as a potential governing body for postwar Gaza — called the veto “a mark of shame that will follow the United States for many years” and said that American officials’ policy toward Israel had made their country “a partner in genocide.”
Israel says that it is trying to eradicate Hamas, which runs Gaza and launched the Oct. 7 attacks that killed more than 1,200 people in southern Israel, according to Israeli authorities.
The Israeli government denies that it purposely targets civilians. Palestinians, Arab governments and international organizations, however, have raised significant concerns about the proportionality of its military response, which has killed more than 15,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities there — a bombing campaign so intense that it has few precedents in this century.
A group of foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim-majority countries who had met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Friday expressed “deep dissatisfaction with the inability of the Security Council to carry out its responsibilities,” the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement. Those ministers also called for the United States “to play a broader role in pressuring the Israeli occupation,” according to Qatar’s foreign ministry.
The United States vetoed the resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, on Friday as senior United Nations leaders warned that without a halt in the fighting it was nearly impossible to get sufficient aid to the more than two million Palestinians in Gaza.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments have repeatedly called for a cease-fire, arguing that a continued Israeli military campaign would not only kill thousands more Palestinians, but also hurt Israeli security and the Middle East writ large, fueling anger and extremism.
The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said on Friday in Washington that “leverage has failed, because it hasn’t been applied.” Again calling for a cease-fire, he said, “There is enough leverage in the international community — there is enough leverage in the established institutions of international peace and stability — including the United Nations Security Council, to achieve this goal.”
“We are seeing a position that sees cease-fires as somehow a dirty word, and I honestly can’t understand that,” Prince Faisal added in an interview with “PBS NewsHour” on Friday.
Biden officials say that Israel must do more to limit civilian casualties and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Mr. Blinken said this past week that there remained “a gap” between Israel’s stated “intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground.”
But that still leaves America’s position far from that of most Arab countries, which blame Israel for what they call a profoundly disproportionate response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.
While officials in Bahrain and the Emirates have publicly condemned Hamas, other Arab governments have stopped short of that, condemning civilian casualties on both sides without naming Hamas as a perpetrator. That stance is partly informed by immense pressure from their own publics as the war widens the gap between many Arab leaders and their people.
During the visit to Washington on Friday, Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, accused Israel of committing a “massacre.” Israeli officials argue that they are in an impossible position, fighting an enemy that embeds itself among civilians.
With its veto, the United States sided with Israel’s claim that ending the war before Hamas is dismantled and removed from power would ensure that the conflict would erupt again. Thirteen of the Council’s 15 members voted in favor of the cease-fire measure, and Britain abstained.
International bodies have failed, and “we’re living in an international law of the jungle,” Hassan Ezz El-Din, a member of Lebanon’s Parliament who is aligned with the Iran-backed militia Hezbollah, said during a memorial ceremony for one of the group’s fighters. Hezbollah is among the regional militias that have entered the fray directly, engaging in skirmishes with Israel along its northern border.
Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut.