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Israel cancels diplomatic trip to U.S. after U.N. calls for Gaza cease-fire

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement on Nov. 24, 2015, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. (U.S. State Department/Released)

Israel called off a much-discussed diplomatic trip to the U.S. after the United Nations passed a resolution calling for a two-week cease-fire in Gaza on Monday.

The U.S. had previously vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for a cease-fire. But on Monday, it simply abstained, allowing the resolution to pass 14-0.

Prior to the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that if the U.S. did not veto the resolution, he would cancel a planned trip by ministers Tzachi Hanegbi and Ron Dermer to Washington, D.C. After the resolution passed, he followed through.

The resolution calls for a cease-fire during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which ends April 9. It also calls for the release of the remaining 134 Israeli hostages held in Gaza, but the two demands are not linked.

“The reason we abstained is because this resolution text did not condemn Hamas,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

While the international community has largely condemned Israel’s offensive in Gaza, the U.S. has spent nearly six months shielding its ally on the diplomatic stage. It previously shut down cease-fire resolutions on Oct. 18, Dec. 8 and Feb. 20.

The U.S. has also proposed two cease-fire resolutions of its own, including one last week. Both those resolutions were vetoed by China and Russia, which called them too weak.

“The current draft is unequivocal and correct in its direction demanding an immediate cease-fire, while the previous one was evasive and ambiguous,” Chinese ambassador to the U.N. Zhang Jun said after Monday’s vote.

More than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the war. According to the territory’s health ministry, more than two-thirds of the dead are women and children.

Netanyahu has previously said he will pay no attention to the international community’s opinion. In January, South Africa filed a case with the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza.

No one will stop us, not The Hague, not the axis of evil and not anyone else,” Netanyahu said in response.

U.S.-Israeli relations have deteriorated throughout the war, as President Biden has faced growing pressure to slow the Israeli offensive amid the skyrocketing Palestinian death toll. The stated purpose of the now-canceled trip was for Israeli military leaders to lay out plans for an attack on the city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have sheltered from the war.


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