Despite majority support, Haley fails in UN bid to condemn Hamas
Don EMMERT (AFP/File)
A bid championed by US Ambassador Nikki Haley to condemn the Palestinian Hamas movement at the United Nations for firing rockets at Israel failed to secure enough votes for adoption on Thursday.
The US-drafted resolution won 87 votes in the General Assembly, falling short of the two-thirds majority required for adoption. Fifty-eight countries opposed the measure and 32 abstained.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the failed vote for the fact that it had received majority backing.
"The draft condemnation of Hamas in the UN General Assembly received a sweeping majority by countries that stood against Hamas," Netanyahu said in an English-language statement. "This is the first time that a majority of countries have voted against Hamas and I commend each of the 87 countries that took a principled stand."
"I thank the American administration and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for the initiative."
Haley, who steps down from her post at the end of the year, has repeatedly accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias and has defended Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
"The resolution proposed by the United States would right a historic wrong," Haley told the assembly ahead of the vote. "More importantly, it would put the General Assembly on the side of truth and balance in the effort to achieve peace in the Middle East."
It was the first-ever proposed resolution condemning Hamas to be presented to the 193-nation assembly.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon lamented after the vote that a decision to condemn Hamas had been "hijacked" by a procedural motion that required adoption by a two-thirds majority, instead of a simple majority.
Hours later, Danon told i24NEWS that "When it comes to Israel, you always have no rules, in the UN, but we're proud of the result, 87 is a plurality of member states who came and voted to condemn Hamas."
"We thank the US, we thank Ambassador Haley for her strong support," he further added.
Kuwait had asked the assembly, on behalf of Arab countries, to require a two-thirds majority, which was narrowly endorsed by a vote of 75 in favor, including EU countries, 72 against and 26 abstentions.
The United States had won crucial backing from the European Union, with all 28 countries supporting the US measure that would have condemned Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and demands an end to the violence.
The European Union, like the United States, considers Hamas a terror group.
The assembly was to vote later on a Palestinian-drafted measure, presented by Ireland, calling "for the achievement, without delay, of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East" based on UN resolutions.
Hamas praised the outcome of the vote, describing it as a "slap" to President Donald Trump's administration.
"The failure of the American venture at the United Nations represents a slap to the US administration and confirmation of the legitimacy of the resistance," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri tweeted, referring to militant groups that oppose Israel.
In an unusual move, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, a longtime rival of Hamas, also welcomed the vote's failure.
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah, said in a statement Friday that the draft's defeat was a message that "all the conspiracies against the Palestinian leadership and legitimacy will not pass."
Abbas's Fatah movement and Hamas have been at loggerheads since the Islamists seized control of Gaza in 2007, although Egypt has been leading efforts to reconcile them.
US takes vote seriously
The vote at the assembly took place as Haley prepares to step away from public life even as polls show she remains one of the most popular members of President Donald Trump's cabinet.
Haley rattled the United Nations when she arrived in January 2017 vowing that the United States will be "taking names" of countries that oppose Trump's foreign policy.
Ahead of the vote, the US ambassador sent a letter to all UN missions to make clear that "the United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously."
"She would like to go out with something," said a Security Council diplomat of the US-drafted resolution.
Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding, but they carry political weight and are seen as a barometer of world opinion.
The US defeat at the General Assembly came as the Trump administration prepares to unveil new peace proposals that the Palestinians have already rejected.
The Palestinians have severed ties with the Trump administration after the decision a year ago to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and declare the city Israel's capital.
The Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. International consensus has been that Jerusalem's status must be negotiated between the two sides.
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Haley has done more at the UN than any other ambassador other than Jeanne Kirkpatrick. She is going to be missed. What a great woman! Hamas the terrorist group isn't condemned? Take the name of the countries.... stop AID. less wasted money...