As Israel intensified its strikes on hospitals and schools in Gaza, a US official justified his country’s use of the veto power against a resolution to stop the war. The official said the United Nations resolution did not stipulate Israel’s right to self-defense against attacks by Hamas. He stressed that his country will work towards including these points in any UN resolutions in the future.
US Department of State regional spokesman Samuel Warburg told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country supports efforts aimed at bolstering peace and stability and was working with all concerned parties to achieve these goals and boost opportunities for cooperation and constructive understanding.
On the meetings of the ministerial committee that was formed at the Arab and Islamic summits in Riyadh, he said his country was keen on the outcomes of these summits to achieve joint goals such as ending the current conflict and establishing the two-state solution.
On the hostages, Warburg said his country was committed to securing their release unconditionally and safely. “We are working with our partners in the region to help towards this goal. We appreciate their help in facilitating dialogue and negotiations to ensure their release,” he added.
The US, meanwhile, is maintaining its support to humanitarian efforts in Gaza, including facilitating the delivery of aid.
*Given the unlimited American support to Israel, what are the chances of cooperation between the US and its regional partners being consolidated?
The United States underscores the right of any nation, including Israel, to defend itself and its people in line with international law. At the same time, we stress the importance of adhering to international regulations and commitments related to protecting civilians.
Let us not forget that Hamas is a terrorist movement. It launched violent terrorist attacks against civilians on October 7. It therefore is responsible for this destruction and harm done to innocent civilians. Hamas doesn’t care for the lives of civilians. It has long used Gaza’s civilian residents as human shields.
The United States enjoys strong and solid relations with its allies in the Middle East and North Africa region. We are working together on several important files, including fighting terrorism and bolstering regional security and stability and supporting diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts. Cooperation also ensures the exchange of expertise and joint training and cooperation in fields, such as economic development and environmental challenges.
It is through these partnerships that we are seeking to build a more secure and stable region that offers development opportunities and prosperity to its people. These are integral parts of our efforts to achieve long-term stability and peace. We believe these partnerships will continue and develop further.
*What justification does the US have in using its veto power against a UN resolution on ending the war in Gaza?
The use of the veto stems from the basis of supporting specific elements related to the possibility of delivering humanitarian aid to civilians. As our ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, we would have preferred if the draft resolutions would have spoken about Israel’s right to self-defense and condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas. We will seek that these two elements are included in any future resolutions.
The US is not waiting for the UN Security Council to take action. Since the eruption of the conflict, President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken led international efforts in support of calls to step up the pace of providing aid to civilians in Gaza. Indeed, several aid convoys have entered Gaza, but this is not enough. We will continue to increase the pressure to expand this operation as soon as possible.
The US will also continue to press for the release of the hostages unconditionally and safely. We will continue to work closely with members of the Security Council to find a way that enables the council to stress the need to protect civilians, bolster humanitarian support, condemn Hamas’ terrorist acts and underscore the right of each nation to defend itself against terrorism.
*Israel continues to destroy hospitals and schools in Gaza and to barbarically kill civilians. What guarantees are there that the war won’t expand and spill over into the region?
The US remains committed towards working on preventing the expansion of the conflict and stoking more tensions in the region. We are well aware of the dangerous impact the attacks are having on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, and the loss of civilian lives. We stress the importance of committing to international humanitarian law and protecting civilians. But we must remember one basic point here, and that is that Hamas is a terrorist movement and it is using civilian areas as safe havens. It is hiding there and perhaps endangering the lives of civilians. This underscores its disregard for the lives of civilians.
From our end, we are stressing to international and regional partners the importance of avoiding any move that could lead to an escalation of the conflict and its spillover. We urge any country or side to refrain from exploiting the situation to achieve political or military gain and to think twice before making a move.
The United States’ main goal is supporting peace efforts and achieving stability in the region. We are working towards facilitating dialogue and searching for diplomatic solutions that guarantee the security and safety of all peoples in the region.
*Some observers believe that the double standards in which the US is dealing with Israel’s war on Gaza is feeding terrorism and encouraging the militias to expand the war. What do you say to this?
American foreign policy is based on bolstering security and peace. It seeks a balanced approach in how it deals with international crises. We are working with our international and regional partners to encourage diplomatic solutions and reduce the tensions in the region. We are concerned with stability and peace and we are maintaining our efforts to confront terrorism and back lasting solutions that would benefit all concerned parties.
*What is the US position on the outcomes of the expected ministerial meeting that was planned by the Arab and Islamic summits?
The US is looking forward to these summits. We realize that we share several joint goals with countries in the region, including ending the current conflict and reaching a two-state solution, which equally affords all Palestinians and Israelis dignity, prosperity and freedom. The US is prepared to work with all concerned parties to achieve these goals and bolster opportunities for cooperation through dialogue and diplomacy.
*To what extent will the Israeli violations against civilians in Gaza impede the policy of normalization with other countries in the region?
We can’t speak on behalf of the Israeli government, but when it comes to our policy, our current diplomatic efforts are focusing on the current crisis. At the same time, the US remains committed to the long-term goal which is achieving a more stable and prosperous Middle East through bolstering the normalization process and making progress in the two-state solution.
*What are the latest developments related to the US measures on the situation in Gaza and the release of hostages?
We are committed to securing the unconditional and safe release of the hostages. As Secretary Blinken said, we are working with partners in the region towards that end. We appreciate the help these countries are providing in terms of facilitating dialogue and negotiations to release the hostages. In addition, the US continues to support humanitarian efforts in Gaza, including facilitating the entry of humanitarian aid. We stress the importance of providing the constant and sustainable necessary support to all civilians.