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The Biden administration was surprised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to cancel a high-level delegation’s planned visit to Washington after the U.S. abstained from vetoing a U.N. Security Council vote demanding a cease-fire in Gaza. The resolution, passed 14-0, called for an immediate cease-fire during Ramadan and the release of hostages taken during Hamas’ October attack. The U.S. abstention did not represent a change in policy and did not affect Israel’s ability to continue its operations against Hamas. The resolution did not link the demand for the release of hostages to the call for a cease-fire.

The U.S. chose not to veto the resolution because it did not condemn Hamas and maintained consistency in linking a hostage deal with a temporary cease-fire. While Hamas welcomed the U.N.’s move, they insisted that the cease-fire needed to be permanent. Netanyahu accused the U.S. of retreating from a principled position by allowing the vote to pass without conditioning the cease-fire on the release of hostages. Tensions between the Biden administration and Netanyahu have grown over Israel’s prosecution of the war, civilian casualties, and humanitarian assistance reaching Gaza. The situation was exacerbated by comments from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer questioning Netanyahu’s actions.

The Israeli delegation was planning to present White House officials with plans for a possible ground invasion of Rafah during their visit to Washington. The Security Council has adopted two resolutions on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza since the start of the war, but none specifically called for a cease-fire. Israeli officials have stated that they will continue to fight until the hostages are released and Hamas is eliminated. Critics argue that the U.S.’s failure to veto the resolution has damaged its strength and credibility.

More than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been reported killed during the fighting, though Israel disputes these figures. The U.S. has previously vetoed three resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, including one supported by 13 council members with one abstention. The ongoing conflict has raised concerns about civilian casualties and humanitarian aid reaching Gaza, as well as deepening tensions between the U.S. and Israel. The decision to abstain from vetoing the resolution has sparked criticism and allegations of weakening U.S. credibility in the region.

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