United Nations rejects U.S. bid to condemn Palestinian group Hamas


The UN General Assembly narrowly rejected a USA -sponsored resolution Thursday seeking to condemn Hamas.

India was among the 32 countries that abstained from voting on the resolution which would have condemned Hamas for "repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk", and for its use of resources in Gaza to construct military infrastructure including tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas.

But the vote on the resolution to condemn Hamas was 87 in favour against 57 opposed, with 33 abstentions - a plurality but below the two-thirds requirement to adopt it.

It also reaffirmed "unwavering support" for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - issues that were not included in the U.S. draft.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the assembly before the vote that it could make history and unconditionally speak out against Hamas, which she called "one of the most obvious and grotesque cases of terrorism in the world".

Prior to the vote, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted that "this afternoon, the UN will vote on a US resolution that asks a simple question: do countries support Hamas's terrorism, or don't they?"

But before the vote on the USA draft resolution, Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenty Soliz withdrew the amendment.

The Comprehensive, Just and Lasting Peace in the Middle East resolution sponsored by Ireland urges to end the occupation of Palestinian territories by the state of Israel and reaffirms its support for the two-state solution.

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"We thank the USA, we thank Ambassador Haley for her strong support", he further added.

Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding, but they carry political weight and are seen as a barometer of world opinion.

The overwhelming support for the Irish resolution reflects global support for action "without delay" toward an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a two-state solution. The people who have suffered by far the most because of Hamas are the Palestinian people. Isn't it time to let that go?

The Israeli diplomat also thanked his United States counterpart, Ambassador Nikki Haley, for her "close cooperation in fighting for the truth that led to the formation of an unprecedented coalition for Israel and against terrorism".

Mansour al-Otaibi, the permanent representative of Kuwait to the United Nations, said if the Israeli "occupation" of the Palestinians would end, this resolution would not be necessary.

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

The United States is working on a long-awaited plan to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but the Palestinians are skeptical and have accused the Trump administration of siding with Israel on core issues. "And yet, throughout all of this, the United Nations has never once passed a resolution condemning Hamas". Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended those that voted in favor. And he said it would also turn attention away from Israel's occupation, settlement activities and "blockade" - whether in Gaza, the West Bank or east Jerusalem which the Palestinians want as their future capital. The fact that a majority backed it, though insufficient for the resolution to pass, was a "very important achievement for the United States and Israel", he wrote.