NEW YORK - The United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Friday that sought to explore ways to ensure "international protection" for Palestinian civilians, while the council voted down a competing US proposal to condemn Hamas over the recent escalation of violence in Gaza.
The votes came after weeks of urgent discussions that had highlighted deep divisions in the UN's most powerful body about how to respond to the bloodshed.
In vetoing the Arab-backed measure drafted by Kuwait, US Ambassador Nikki Haley called it "grossly one-sided" for demanding that the IDF halt "the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force" while not mentioning Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza.
"This resolution is wildly inaccurate in its characterization of recent events in Gaza" and "would harm any efforts toward peace," she said.
"The terrorist group Hamas bares primary responsibility for the awful living conditions in Gaza," Haley went on to say.
But Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said the veto stood to exacerbate the problems in Gaza. "It will increase the sentiment of despair among the Palestinians," he said.
France, Russia, China, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Peru, Sweden, and Equatorial Guinea joined Kuwait in voting in favor, while only the United States voted against. Britain, the Netherlands, Poland and Ethiopia abstained.
A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to be adopted.
The proposed US resolution, meanwhile, deleted the reference to Israeli force and protecting Palestinians. Instead, it demanded that Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups stop "all violent activity and provocative actions" in Gaza.
Only the United States voted in favor of the second draft resolution, while there were three negative votes and 10 abstentions.
In two months of mass protests at the Gaza border, some 110 Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded by IDF fire as troops were defending the border from attempts by Hamas to attack under the cover of the protest.
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad bombarded southern Israel with rockets and mortars Tuesday, and Israel responded by striking targets throughout Gaza. Hamas said Wednesday it had agreed to a ceasefire with Israel.
The vetoed Kuwaiti draft resolution expressed "grave concern" at the increased violence and deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories and calls for urgent steps to ensure a "durable and fully respected ceasefire."
It asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a written report within 60 days on ways to ensure "the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation," including recommendations about "an international protection mechanism." The measure also urges humanitarian access and seeks "tangible steps" toward reconciliation between different Palestinian factions.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon called the draft biased and "not worthy of consideration by the Security Council."
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are members of the council.
At Kuwait's request, the council has held multiple emergency meetings on the border clashes. The US called an emergency session Wednesday on the barrage of rockets and mortars the day prior.
Reuters contributed to this story.