UNITED NATIONS—The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday rejected a U.S. resolution condemning Hamas as a terrorist organization, delivering a blow to Ambassador Nikki Haley’s parting action before leaving her post at the end of the year.
The vote was the first time that the General Assembly was considering a resolution regarding Hamas, the Palestinian movement controlling the Gaza Strip since 2007. The resolution condemned Hamas and called for an end to violence.
The U.S. mission had negotiated for weeks with countries and had succeeded in getting all 28 countries of the European Union bloc on its side. The U.S. and European Union have already designated Hamas as a terrorist group for its indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians with rockets and suicide bombs.
The resolution fell short of the required two-thirds majority of the 193-member assembly to pass, with 87 votes in favor, 57 against and 33 abstentions. The U.S. had earlier sought a simple majority.
“There can be no peace without the mutual agreement that terrorism is unacceptable,” Ms. Haley told the assembly. “The questions before us is whether the U.N. thinks terrorism is acceptable if and only if it’s directed at Israel.”
Ms. Haley shaped her two-year diplomatic legacy on an effort to defend and protect Israel against what she said was bias against the Jewish state at the U.N. She attempted and failed to tilt the organization and member states toward Israel, from the status of Jerusalem and Israeli settlement expansions in the West Bank to the discussion of Middle East peace at monthly meetings of the Security Council.
Ms. Haley said that the outcome of the vote would have consequences and had sent a letter to missions stating that the U.S. considers the vote “very seriously.” She departed the chamber after the resolution failed to pass.
The U.S. mission had negotiated for weeks with countries and had succeeded in getting all 28 countries of the European Union bloc on its side. The resolution condemned Hamas and called for an end to violence.
Diplomats said that Ms. Haley’s overt outreach was part of her desire to leave her post as a cabinet member of the Trump administration and U.N. ambassador with a concrete achievement for Israel. Diplomats pointed out that Washington’s much anticipated Middle East Peace plan, spearheaded by White House senior adviser and President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has yet to materialize.
“She would like to go out with something,” said a Security Council diplomat of Ms. Haley’s Hamas resolution.
In her presentation of the resolution, Ms. Haley said a vote for or against Hamas was as simple as rejecting or accepting terrorism. Opponents said the question before them was more complex and that the U.S. resolution ignored other causes of the conflict.
Kuwait, on behalf of all Arab countries, called on member states to reject the U.S.’s request for a simple majority, which would guarantee the passage of the resolution. Saudi Arabia backed the call.
Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon told the assembly that the vote had been hijacked by the procedural maneuver. “Your silence in the face of evil reveals your true color,” he said.
Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour thanked the member states for their vote. “There is no balance and no symmetry in this conflict. There is an occupier and an occupied people,” he said.
Ireland introduced a second competing resolution calling for a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” based on U.N. resolutions. The resolution passed by a wide margin of 156 votes to six against and 12 abstentions.
The only countries that voted against the second resolution, except for Israel and the U.S., were Australia, Liberia, Marshall Islands and Nauru. All European Union countries voted in favor, citing their longstanding policies of a two-state solution for the conflict.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri reacted on Twitter by posting this message, “The failure of the American venture at the United Nations represents a slap to the U.S. administration and confirmation of the legitimacy of the resistance.”
Write to Farnaz Fassihi at email@example.com
Appeared in the December 7, 2018, print edition as ‘Resolution On Hamas Defeated At U.N..’