U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley vetoes a vote as Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenty votes for a Arab-backed resolution for protection of Palestinian civilians.
(photo credit: SHANNON STAPLETON / REUTERS)
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is responding to a scheduled Wednesday vote in the UN General Assembly condemning Israel's recent actions in Gaza with a counter-vote, in which the 193-nation body would separately vote to condemn Hamas.
The General Assembly is set to vote on an Arab-backed resolution on "protection of the Palestinian civilian population," after a similar measure, drafted by Kuwait, was vetoed by the US in the Security Council last week. After that vote, the US' envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, proposed a second resolution that would condemn Hamas' recent rocket firings on Israeli territory.
The US resolution failed, as well.
U.S. vetoes UN Security Council resolution denouncing Israeli violence against Palestinians in Gaza, June 2, 2018 (Reuters)
Now Haley will execute a similar tactic, offering an amendment to the Arab-backed resolution that will receive a referendum before the full resolution is put to a vote. A letter from Haley sent to fellow ambassadors and obtained by The Jerusalem Post explains her rationale.
The Arab-backed text is "fundamentally imbalanced" and "ignores basic truths about the situation in Gaza," Haley wrote. "In particular, the draft places all responsibility for the current situation on Israel."
The US amendment, she said, "deserves a vote in the General Assembly. It is not controversial; the amendment is a simple condemnation of behavior we should all recognize as harmful to the Palestinian people. Obstructing a vote on this amendment would be the same as failing to condemn Hamas."
The measure not only condemns Hamas, but also "demands that Hamas cease all violent activity and provocative actions," including its construction of military infrastructure used to infiltrate the Jewish state.
Over 120 Palestinians have died in protests on Gazan side of the Israeli border in recent weeks, prompted by a series of events, including Nakba Day and the relocation of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Israeli and Hamas officials alike say that the majority of casualties were Hamas officials, but the Arab-backed resolution characterizes IDF actions in Gaza as "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force," and declines to mention Hamas' role.
"'Hamas' is not mentioned even once in the text," Haley continued. "This omission should be unacceptable to all Member States, given that Hamas fired over 100 rockets at Israel last month, provoked violent uprisings, and obstructed the flow of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people."
Haley's decision to propose the amendment carries some diplomatic risk. A resulting vote that fails to condemn the militant organization might play into Hamas' messaging at home, that the organization holds some legitimacy in the United Nations. Sources tell the Post they expect the vote to fail but for there to be a large number of abstentions.
"We welcome the American amendment condemning the terrorists of Hamas," said Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the UN, in a statement. "It is despicable for any country to even consider to vote for a resolution condemning Israel while refusing to support the condemnation of Hamas."
"Such behavior is hypocritical at best," Danon continued, "and at worst amounts to openly emboldening an internationally recognized terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of countless of innocent people."