'Intl. conscience thwarted U.S. plot to condemn Hamas'

Nellie Chapman
December 7, 2018

The resolution condemned Hamas for "repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk" and for its military activities in Gaza including constructing tunnels "to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas".

The resolution required two-thirds support and while Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they can carry political weight.

After the US draft on Hamas failed to win adoption, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the Irish resolution by a vote of 156-6, with 12 abstentions.

The U.S. urged a simple majority vote on the resolution but just before the final vote, Kuwait and Bolivia were able to get a narrow majority to adopt a rule requiring a two-thirds majority for the resolution's passage which ensured its failure. It also reaffirmed "unwavering support" for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - issues not included in the USA draft.

Before the voting, US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley said that despite more than 500 General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel, not one condemning Hamas has ever been adopted.

The Hamas leader further noted that the vote against the US-drafted resolution is a tremendous achievement for the Palestinian people and all brotherly countries.

Danon said he has had discussions with some of the Arab ambassadors in the United Nations, and they are unhappy with the support Hamas is getting from Tehran, and the fact that the PA is cooperating with Iran, seen by some of these countries - such as Saudi Arabia - as their mortal enemy.

Ahead of the vote, the US ambassador sent a letter to all U.N. missions to make clear that "the United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously".

This resolution was the first condemning Hamas that the 193-nation assembly had considered. "That is something we should all think deeply about", she said, noting that the resolution was not a judgment one way or another on the peace process but "a foundational element of peace - that foundation is the rejection of terrorism, because we all know there can be no peace without a mutual agreement that terrorism is unacceptable".

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U.S. envoy Nikki Haley had said adoption would right a "historic wrong" as the United Nations has not passed such a condemnation.

Danon said the Palestinian demand for the resolution to pass by a two-thirds margin shows their level of concern at the precedent of the UN General Assembly - which is widely viewed as their "home court" - passing a resolution against them.

A number of States explained their reasons for voting against the resolution.

"Is the hatred toward Israel so strong that you'll defend a terrorist organization?" she asked those that voted against the resolution.

When Hamas eventually took control, Israel responded by enforcing a land, sea and air blockade on Gaza and banning its residents from working in Israel.

The European Union, like the United States, considers Hamas a terror group.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately thanked Israel's friends in the United Nations General Assembly in a statement Thursday night.

Israel captured Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war but withdrew in 2005, while holding onto most of the separate West Bank, where Palestinians have limited self-rule.

Haley called condemnation of Hamas "an essential step" to a peace settlement.

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