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UN rejects U.S.-led measure condemning Hamas

Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, urged member states to reconsider after the measure gained majority support but not enough for approval.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley during a June Security Council meeting. Thursday, she criticized member states for rejecting a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning the militant Palestinian organization, Hamas. Photo Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

The UN General Assembly rejected a United States-sponsored resolution Thursday condemning Hamas even though most member states supported the measure denouncing the militant Palestinian organization that controls Gaza and has clashed with Israeli troops in recent months.

The resolution, which condemned Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk,” earned the support of 87 UN member states, 57 votes against it, with 33 abstaining. Even so, the measure failed to get two-thirds of the votes needed for adoption.

More than a majority of member states were needed because earlier Thursday, the General Assembly voted in favor of requiring the two-thirds vote, a move Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said was designed to prevent its passage. That measure barely passed — 75 voted in favor, 72 voted against it and 26 abstained.

“I want to take a personal moment and ask my Arab brothers and sisters: Is the hatred that strong?” said Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN. “Is the hatred toward Israel so strong that you’ll defend a terrorist organization, one that is directly causing harm to the Palestinian people? Isn’t it time to let that go? For true peace and security in the entire region, isn’t it time for both sides to let this go? For the sake of peace, and for the sake of this institution, I respectfully urge my colleagues to support the United States’ resolution.”

The measure follows a deadly volley of gunfire and rockets across the border between Israel and Gaza last month. Hamas fired hundreds of rockets into Israel after the discovery on Nov. 11 of an undercover Israeli special forces operation. Israel retaliated by striking targets in Gaza. There have also been ongoing clashes between Israel Defense Forces and Gaza residents who have demonstrated since March along the border fence against Israel’s occupation.

Still, Haley later called the vote “historic” since 87 of the General Assembly’s 193 members backed it.

“For the first time at the UN, a record 87 countries condemned Hamas for its rocket fire & use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes against Israel,” Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said in a tweet after the vote.

Both of those measures, however, preceded a third vote Thursday on a resolution drafted by Ireland and calling for a “two-state solution” to the decadeslong Israeli Palestinian conflict and the “achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

The measure passed overwhelmingly with 156 votes in favor, with Israel, the United States, Australia, Nauru, Liberia and the Marshall Islands voting against it.

The votes come one week after the passage of a flurry of resolutions in the General Assembly during the annual Question of Palestine debate last week, part of a three-day observance titled: The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

At that time, the General Assembly voted for three resolutions that opposed Israeli actions in Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights and called for a resumption of the peace process.

Three other measures last week urged the UN system itself to continue to support the Palestinian people.

In a tweet, Hamas called the lack of support for the U.S.-sponsored resolution a “failure” of the administration of President Donald Trump.

“Hamas considers the US failure to pass the resolution that condemns the Palestinian resistance as a triumph for the Palestinian people, for the Arab and Islamic nations, and for all free people of the world," the group wrote. “It is a serious failure for the ‘bullying policy’ of the Trump administration adopted in the region.”

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