December 11, 2023
JAKARTA – Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi has expressed regret over the United States’ decision to veto a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution, backed by a majority of council members and dozens of other nations, which calls for an immediate cease-fire in the war-torn Gaza Strip.
At the UNSC on Friday, the US vetoed a draft resolution demanding a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza proposed by the United Arab Emirates, just hours after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said nowhere in Gaza was safe for civilians amid a “spiraling humanitarian nightmare”.
Thirteen out of the 15 UNSC members voted in favor of the resolution, with the United Kingdom abstaining in addition to the US veto.
“We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable cease-fire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” Robert A. Wood, the US Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs in the UN, told the council, AFP reported.
In a post on her official account on social media platform X on Saturday, Retno wrote that she “deeply [regretted]” the council’s failure to adopt the resolution for a cease-fire in the Palestinian territory, which was cosponsored by more than 102 countries, including Indonesia.
“The global community cannot continue to be at the mercy of a few countries and watch helplessly the atrocities and killings of women and children in Gaza,” she wrote.
The foreign minister had recently embarked on a diplomatic mission with several top diplomats from influential Muslim-majority nations seeking to persuade the UNSC’s four other permanent members, China, Russia, the UK and France, to pass a resolution calling for an end to the armed conflict in Gaza.
The diplomats concluded their tour in New York, where they made their case for an immediate cease-fire in and unimpeded humanitarian assistance to Gaza in meetings with the UN General Assembly and the UNSC.
At a meeting on Nov. 30, Retno told council members that Indonesia was “enraged” over the situation in Gaza and called for further action in terms of humanitarian pauses and corridors for the territory.
The US and Israel have been opposed to a cease-fire, saying this would only benefit Hamas, the Palestinian militant group against which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared war, vowing to annihilate it in response to its deadly Oct. 7 cross-border incursion.
Washington instead supported “pauses”, such as the recent seven-day halt in fighting that saw both Hamas and Israel release some hostages and an increase in humanitarian aid deliveries to the stricken region, AFP reported.
But fighting has resumed since the deal broke down on Dec. 1, killing hundreds more people, bringing the total toll from Israel’s two-month campaign against Hamas to nearly 17,500, according to data from Gaza’s health ministry.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israel to take steps to safeguard Gaza’s civilian population, pointing to a gap between “the intent to protect civilians and the actual results […] on the ground”.
Countries around the globe have condemned the US veto.
“What is the message we are sending [to] Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?” deputy UAE Ambassador to the UN Mohamed Abushahab told the council, as quoted by Reuters.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour called the result of the UNSC vote “disastrous”, emphasizing that “Millions of Palestinian lives hang in balance.”
Meanwhile, Israel expressed its appreciation for the US veto, calling it “the correct stance” to take as it reiterated its vow to continue its campaign to eliminate Hamas.
Also on Saturday, Retno announced that the Foreign Ministry had evacuated from Gaza Indonesian citizen Farid Zanzabil Al Ayubi, one of the three volunteers with the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C) who worked at the nonprofit group’s Indonesia Hospital in Gaza.
The medical volunteers initially decided to stay in Gaza even though the hospital had stopped operating after it ran out of fuel and was assaulted by the Israeli forces. Farid later changed his mind and asked for the ministry’s assistance to flee Gaza.
“Mas [Mr.] Farid has reached the Rafah border crossing with an evacuation team from the Indonesian Embassy in Cairo [that] will bring him to a secure location in Egypt,” Retno told a press briefing on Saturday.
“The team will take Mas Farid to Cairo and [then] repatriate him to Indonesia.”
The minister said the two other MER-C volunteers had remained unchanged in their decision, were well and sheltering at a school near the European hospital in southern Gaza.
Retno added that the ministry would maintain communication with the pair and continue to monitor their condition.