President Biden cleared the way Monday for the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding Israel suspend its counterterrorism operations in Gaza without conditioning any cease-fire on the release of Israeli hostages.

Combined with a pressure campaign to deter Israel from dismantling Hamas’ last stronghold in Gaza, Biden’s signal to the terror group is clear: Keep terrorizing and holding hostages because America is pressing Israel to stop the war.

The United States is a permanent Security Council member and, as such, can veto any resolution with which it disagrees.


The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution to demand a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip on March 25, 2024.
The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution to demand a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip on March 25, 2024. REUTERS/Andrew

China and Russia used their own veto powers Friday to block an American-proposed resolution that condemned Hamas as a terrorist organization along with the Oct. 7 massacre, denounced Houthi attacks on the Red Sea and endorsed a temporary cease-fire in Gaza “in connection with the release of all remaining hostages.”

Beijing and Moscow didn’t care that the Biden administration’s proposed resolution was already hostile toward Israel — opposing military action in Rafah, where hostages are being held and Hamas is preparing to make its last stand.

Neither could tolerate a resolution that condemned a terror proxy of Iran, and nothing short of a pathway to Hamas survival would ever win their support.

Rather than waging political warfare on China and Russia for defending Hamas — with an understanding that the Security Council is a venue to undermine our enemies on the world stage, not a place to compromise core American values just for the sake of winning Chinese and Russian votes — the Biden administration internalized a misguided self-perception of US isolation.

And its desperation to pressure Israel into a cease-fire grew stronger.

Over the weekend, with Hamas refusing to compromise in hostage negotiations, America pressed Israel to make more concessions — increasing the number of convicted Palestinian terrorists Jerusalem would be willing to trade for every Israeli hostage Hamas released during a six-week cease-fire.

Coming into Monday’s Security Council meeting, Hamas had not responded to Israel’s latest offer.

Against the backdrop of a hostage negotiation in which Hamas remains maximalist in demands and the arrival of Israel’s defense minister in Washington to meet with senior White House officials, the United States needed to veto any Security Council resolution that could further embolden the terrorist group.

Biden chose a different path: abstaining on a resolution that decoupled a demand for a cease-fire from a demand for the release of hostages, thus severely undercutting Israel at the hostage-negotiating table.

The resolution had other severe flaws that demanded a US veto.

It made no mention of Oct. 7 or Hamas, let alone note Hamas is a terrorist organization, as if the world woke up one day in a vacuum outraged to find Israel at war in Gaza and Palestinian civilians in distress.

Why Israel is at war, who Israel is targeting and who is to blame for civilian suffering are unimportant questions for a resolution that simply says Israel must lay down its arms and hope a terrorist group that savaged 1,200 people and took 250 hostages will care what the Security Council demands.

These outrageous omissions, however, were no longer automatic triggers for a US veto.

During his recent State of the Union address, the president pledged to the families of Hamas-held hostages, which include American citizens, that “we will not rest until we bring their loved ones home.”

Apparently that vow did not include vetoing resolutions that disconnect demands for hostage releases from any potential cease-fire — reducing the odds of bringing them home.

The State Department claimed Monday the resolution reflected the administration’s “principled position that any ceasefire text must be paired with text on the release of the hostages.”

But that explanation itself reflects how far Biden policy has shifted. No longer must a cease-fire be conditioned on the release of hostages; the two demands must only appear next to each other for optics.

On a policy level, the two demands now exist independently — meaning America supports a cease-fire even without the release of hostages.

Israeli strength backed by American political support is needed to bring hostages home, defeat Hamas in Gaza and deter Iranian threats throughout the Middle East.

To counter the perception of an Israel crumbling under American pressure, Jerusalem must respond with reaffirmed determination to destroy Hamas on the battlefield.

And members of Congress should reaffirm their support for that objective, including a potential operation in Rafah.

Hamas scored a political victory with Biden’s help.

Israel must now fight that much harder to reverse the damage — with or without Biden’s approval.

Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former National Security Council official and senior US Senate aide.

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