“In light of the change in the American position, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided the delegation would not leave,” Netanyahu's office said. Image Credit: AFP

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said he would not send a delegation as planned to Washington after the United States did not veto a UN Security Council proposal calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Netanyahu, according to a statement from his office, said that Washington’s failure to veto the proposal was a “clear retreat” from its previous position, and would hurt war efforts against Hamas in Gaza as well as efforts to release over 130 hostages.

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“In light of the change in the American position, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided the delegation would not leave,” his office said.

The high-level delegation was due to travel to Washington to discuss a planned Israeli military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

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The resolution passed 14-0 on Monday after the US decided not to use its veto power and instead abstained. The US has previously vetoed three resolutions demanding a ceasefire.

US 'very disappointed'

The resolution also calls for the release of all hostages taken captive during Hamas’ October 7 surprise attack in southern Israel. But the measure does not link that demand to its call for a ceasefire, intended for the ongoing Ramadan, which ends April 9.

The United States is “very disappointed” by the cancelation of the Israeli delegation’s planned visit, the White House said Monday.

“We’re very disappointed that they won’t be coming to Washington, DC to allow us to have a fulsome conversation with them about viable alternatives to going in on the ground in Rafah,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists.

Kirby however insisted that the vote “does not represent a shift in our policy,” and said the United States abstained because the text did not condemn Hamas.

“We’ve been consistent in our support (for) a ceasefire as part of a hostage deal,” he said, referring to efforts to free the roughly 130 people who are still believed to be held in Gaza after they were seized in a shock Hamas attack in October.

The United States has backed Israel with both military and diplomatic support, but has voiced frustration with Netanyahu as the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip mounts.

International aid officials say the entire population of the Gaza Strip — 2.3 million people — is suffering from food insecurity and that famine is imminent in the hard-hit north.