United Nations rejects USA proposal to condemn Hamas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses Palestinians gathered at the tomb of Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah to commemorate the 14th anniversary of his death

United Nations rejects USA proposal to condemn Hamas

The U.N. General Assembly voted on Thursday against a resolution sponsored by USA ambassador Nikki Haley to condemn the Palestinian Hamas group as a terrorist organization.

"Before the General Assembly can credibly advocate compromise and reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israel, it must on record, unambiguously and unconditionally, condemn Hamas terrorism", Haley told the body before the vote. "For their sake, the world should speak out against the destruction of Hamas and what it continues to cause", she said.

"What the United Nations chooses to do today will speak volumes about each country's seriousness when it comes to condemning antisemitism, because there is nothing more antisemitic than saying terrorism is not terrorism when it's used against the Jewish people and the Jewish state", Haley added.

The resolution, which was backed strongly by Israel, needed a two-thirds majority to pass on Thursday following an earlier vote in the assembly.

"While it did not achieve a two-thirds majority, 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 against Hamas", he said.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said that the resolution had been a chance for "UN redemption" and that those who had voted against it "should be ashamed of themselves". He said all resolutions put forth by the Palestinians seek balance, and he thanked countries that did not follow the United States call to condemn Hamas.

By contrast, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the "large majority" - 87 countries - "that took a stance against Hamas" for the first time, calling it "an important achievement for the United States and Israel".

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".

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The Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. "Just last Friday there was no decision that resolutions under this same agenda item had to be adopted by a two-thirds vote".

That draft resolution calls "for the achievement, without delay, of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East" based on United Nations resolutions.

It calls for "the achievement, without delay" of lasting Mideast peace on the basis of United Nations resolutions, singling out the December 2016 measure.

Outgoing US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had written to member states on Monday to urge them to vote for the US-drafted text, warning them: "The United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously".

Ahead of the vote, Ms Haley, who steps down at the end of the year, said she wanted to "ask my Arab brothers and sisters - is the hatred toward Israel so strong that you'll defend a terrorist organisation?"

Ahead of the vote, the USA ambassador sent a letter to all U.N. missions to make clear that "the United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously". Among the countries that supported the proposal were all the member states of the European Union, countries in Africa and Asia, and many others.

But the resolution that was voted on never mentioned a two-state solution or referred to Israeli actions against the Palestinians, which Ireland and others considered unbalanced.

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