Israel at War

Netanyahu cancels diplomats' visit to US over UN cease-fire vote

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the response by Israel to the U.N. resolution was surprising.

Members of the United Nations Security Council applaud after passing a cease-fire resolution in Gaza.
Members of the United Nations Security Council applaud after passing a cease-fire resolution in Gaza.
Craig Ruttle / AP
SMS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled a high-level delegation's planned visit to Washington after the U.S. decided not to use its veto power and instead abstained from Monday’s U.N. Security Council demand for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

The U.S. has previously vetoed three resolutions calling for a Gaza cease-fire.

The resolution, which passed 14-0, calls for a cease-fire during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It also demands the release of all hostages taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 surprise attack in southern Israel. However, the measure does not link that demand to its call for a cease-fire.

International aid officials say the entire population of the Gaza Strip — 2.3 million people — is suffering from food insecurity and that famine is imminent in the hard-hit north.

More than 32,000 people have been killed in the territory, and more than 74,000 wounded, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its counts. It says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Some 1,200 people were killed on Oct. 7 when Palestinian militants launched a surprise attack out of Gaza, triggering the war, and abducted another 250 people. Hamas is still believed to be holding some 100 Israelis hostage, as well as the remains of 30 others.

UN demands cease-fire in Gaza during Muslim holy month of Ramadan
UN demands cease-fire in Gaza during Muslim holy month of Ramadan

UN demands cease-fire in Gaza during Muslim holy month of Ramadan

Ramadan ends next month, meaning any cease-fire would last just two weeks, though the resolution says it should lead to a permanent cease-fire.

LEARN MORE

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the response by Israel to the U.N. resolution was surprising. “We’re kind of perplexed by this,” he said.

He said the Israelis were “choosing to create a perception of daylight here when they don’t need to do that.”

According to a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the talks, American officials were in touch with Israel throughout the weekend to make the U.S. position known on the Security Council resolution, and to articulate that it was not a change in policy or in support for Israel. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive discussions.

Netanyahu did not talk to President Biden before he canceled the delegation’s trip, and President Biden doesn’t have any immediate plans to phone Netanyahu, the official said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was set to meet with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and others Monday in Washington where discussions would continue. The U.S. official said the plan by Israel to enter Rafah was not imminent and there would still be time for ongoing talks — despite the canceled trip.

Eytan Gilboa, an expert on U.S.-Israel relations at Bar Ilan University, said Netanyahu’s decision to cancel the diplomatic delegation to the United States was a mistake and demonstrates the tension between the U.S. and Israel at this moment.

Gilboa said President Biden is trying to placate voices within the Democratic party that oppose his support of Israel, while Netanyahu is trying to show his ability to stand up to American policies he considers anti-Israel.

“If domestic considerations are dominating decision making in the war, you have very harsh exchanges of rhetoric,” he said.