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In Blow to Haley, U.N. Rejects Measure Condemning Hamas

Posted December 6, 2018 8:33 p.m. EST

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday rejected a resolution proposed by the United States to condemn the Islamic militant group Hamas for violence against Israel. The rejection was a blow to the U.S. ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, who had positioned the measure as a capstone of her tenure.

In remarks before the vote, Haley characterized the resolution as an opportunity for the 193 member states of the General Assembly to put themselves on the side of “truth and balance.”

Though the body has voted many times to condemn Israel, never once has it passed a resolution critical of Hamas, an organization Haley described as one of the “most obvious and grotesque cases of terrorism in the world.”

“Today could be a historic day at the United Nations or it could be just another ordinary day,” said Haley, who announced in October that she would be resigning, perhaps by year’s end.

Since 2007, Hamas has exercised political control over the Gaza Strip, a sliver of land along the Mediterranean Sea where about 2 million Palestinians live in grinding poverty. This year, a series of anti-Israel protests along Gaza’s border with Israel turned violent, with Israeli security forces killing seven Palestinians in a single day in October.

Hamas militants have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, often hitting civilian areas. They also have employed a new kind of weapon: kites armed with incendiary devices, sometimes painted with Nazi symbols, that have burned Israeli farmland.

Although a plurality of the General Assembly member countries voted in favor of the measure, a procedural maneuver by a group of Arab countries, led by Kuwait, required a two-thirds majority for the measure to pass.

The tally was 87 in favor to 58 opposed, with 32 abstentions.

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador, characterized the vote as a victory that had been “hijacked by a political procedure.” He praised the members that supported the measure, and said those that did not should be ashamed.

“Wait when you will have to deal with terrorism in your own countries,” he said. “Your silence in the face of evil revealed your true colors.”

The resolution, which would have condemned the use of rockets and other weapons against Israeli civilians and demanded a cessation of violence by Hamas and other militant groups, was largely symbolic. It would have had no bearing on negotiations toward a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The peace process has been paralyzed while the Trump administration completes a long-awaited and secretive proposal, led by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

U.N. diplomats, including close allies of the United States, have largely been kept in the dark about the details of the proposal. It is unclear when Kushner plans to unveil it.

None of that may even matter. The Palestinians say they have lost faith in the Trump administration’s ability to be a neutral arbiter and have signaled that they may refuse to negotiate regardless of what Kushner’s plan offers them.

Palestinian officials were incensed by Trump’s decision last year to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move they feared could undermine their efforts to establish East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

They also were angered by the administration’s decision to cut funding in August to the U.N. agency that provides aid to millions of Palestinians classified as refugees.

Kushner played a decisive role in that decision, arguing that cutting the aid would pressure Palestinians to negotiate. Haley suggested that the aid cuts were punishment for Palestinian leaders who she said continually “bash America.”