Washington, DC – On three separate occasions, the United States has used its veto power to scuttle United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions aimed at bringing a ceasefire to war-torn Gaza.

That streak ended on Monday, when the administration of President Joe Biden decided not to veto the latest ceasefire resolution, allowing it to pass by abstaining from the vote instead.

The US move garnered widespread attention as a sign of Biden’s growing frustration with Israeli leadership, which is pressing on with its deadly military campaign in Gaza.

But Palestinian rights advocates argue that what is needed is a fundamental rethinking in Washington’s support for Israel — beyond symbolism and rhetoric.

“It’s a shift. However, it hasn’t stopped arms transfers from being made. And that’s ultimately what really matters,” said Adam Shapiro, a political analyst.

Washington played down the resolution as “non-binding”, but the change in stance was enough to prompt a fiery response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lashed out at the US for failing to block the motion.

His office issued a statement accusing Washington of harming Israel’s war efforts, underscoring the growing tensions with Biden.

‘A dance’ between leaders

Advocates say the question is now whether the Biden administration will use its leverage to pressure Israel to end its abuses against Palestinians in Gaza.

Biden officials have urged the Israeli government to protect civilians and allow more aid to Gaza, but they have so far declined to place conditions on aid to Israel to further those goals.

Tariq Kenney-Shawa, a US policy fellow at Al-Shabaka, a Palestinian think tank, said the true test of where the US stands is whether it will grant the “wish list” of arms Israel is expected to ask for.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is on a visit to Washington, DC, and US and Israeli media outlets have reported that he will request specific weapons for the ongoing war.

“The policy of providing Israel and Netanyahu in particular with all the tools he needs to continue the assault on Gaza has continued uninterrupted since October,” Kenney-Shawa said in an email to Al Jazeera.

“In many ways, I see this as a dance. The Biden administration is taking what it sees as the necessary public steps to make it look like they’re doing everything they can to hold Israel’s feet to the fire, when in reality, they’re facilitating and enabling Israel to no end. Israel has yet to face any concrete consequences from the US for its war crimes and genocide.”

The war started on October 7, after an attack on southern Israel killed 1,139 people. Since then, Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed more than more than 32,000 Palestinians and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Its blockade of Gaza has also brought the territory to the verge of famine.

Monday’s resolution, which was adopted in a 14-0 vote, called for a “lasting” ceasefire as well as the release of Israeli captives in Gaza and a surge of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory.

“Our vote does not — and I repeat that, does not — represent a shift in our policy,” White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Monday.

“We’ve been very clear, we’ve been very consistent in our support for a ceasefire as part of a hostage deal.”

‘Slap in the face’

That is not how Netanyahu saw it, though. The Israeli prime minister said the abstention “constitutes a clear departure from the consistent US position in the Security Council since the beginning of the war”.

In response, Netanyahu cancelled an Israeli delegation’s visit to Washington, DC. The group was meant to discuss ways to avert an Israeli assault on the crowded city of Rafah in southern Gaza.

Israel had previously threatened to call off the trip if the US did not veto the resolution.

The Biden administration has been urging Israel not to launch a full-scale offensive in Rafah, warning that such an invasion would harm civilians trapped in the city and further isolate Israel on the world stage.

Against that backdrop, multiple US officials had talked up the delegation’s now-cancelled visit as an example of Washington’s efforts to contain the war.

On Monday, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller described Netanyahu’s move to nix the trip as “surprising and unfortunate”.

Shapiro, the analyst, told Al Jazeera that it was a “slap in the face” to Biden. He questioned why the US — a global superpower — is failing to advance its priorities with Israel, a much smaller ally dependent on US aid.

“At this point, the United States is not reacting in accordance with its complete failure to get its policy objectives met, in the current context of what Israel is doing in Gaza or the larger picture in terms of what Israel is doing overall on the occupied territories,” he said.

Nancy Okail, the president of the Center for International Policy, a US-based think tank, said this is far from the first time Netanyahu has openly flouted US demands.

Last week, for example, Israel announced the illegal seizure of 800 hectares (1,977 acres) in the occupied West Bank, defying US policy.

‘Significant’ vote

Still, Okail said Monday’s vote on the ceasefire resolution is “significant” because it brought the US policy closer to its rhetoric on stopping the war and came against Netanyahu’s threats.

“However, it’s still very late and still not enough,” Okail told Al Jazeera. “It also needs to be followed with concrete steps to show how serious the US administration is about support for ceasefire and lasting peace and about making sure that humanitarian assistance is delivered adequately and in time for the Palestinian people.

“And that means taking steps towards assessing whether the US should continue sending arms to Israel.”

So far, US officials have ruled out placing conditions on aid to Israel, often reasserting their commitment to Israel’s security.

As the war on Gaza rages on, Israel’s public disregard for the US policy agenda is intensifying calls for Biden to take steps to pressure Netanyahu and uphold laws that ban weapon transfers to human rights abusers.

The Biden administration says it is working on a comprehensive solution to the broader conflict that would see the establishment of a Palestinian state, with security guarantees for Israel and the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab states.

But Netanyahu and other right-wing members of his government have categorically rejected the two-state solution, stressing that Israel must maintain security control on the occupied Palestinian territory.

“The ball is very much in the Biden administration’s court. And they have options,” Shapiro said, referring to halting US aid and weapons to Israel.

“And I think for the first time in a long time, there are options that if they want to use them, they would have vast support from the American public at large and in particular from the Democratic base.”

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