Monday, May 27, 2024

Days of intense negotiations enabled the Biden administration to avoid casting a veto at the United Nations Security Council in defense of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. But abstaining from a resolution designed to help more humanitarian aid reach Gaza only limited the damage to America’s standing around the world as it becomes an increasingly lonely protector of Israel. The outcome was a relief to U.S. officials loath to exercise America’s veto power in defense of Israel for what would have been the third time since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks. Abstaining from a 13-0 vote may look better than casting a veto — which President Biden has said should be reserved for “rare, extraordinary situations” — but it still may not help America’s image abroad. It is one reason, with the year drawing to a close, that the United States finds itself diplomatically isolated and in a defensive crouch. That isolation is a dramatic turnaround in international perceptions for the Biden administration: For most of the past two years, top U.S. officials led what they saw as a valiant crusade to rally the world against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Coalition building on behalf of Ukraine has turned to crisis management over Gaza. The United States is now at odds with staunch allies like France, Canada, Australia and Japan, all of whom voted earlier this month for a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, a resolution that the United States vetoed. Human rights groups — which for months applauded U.S. efforts to hold Russia accountable — now denounce the United States for supporting Israel, which many of them accuse of committing war crimes in Gaza. Bad blood over Gaza would make it harder to win support from other countries, in particular for pro-Ukraine resolutions.

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