Israel hailed as a historic achievement the support of 87 member states at the United Nations General Assembly for a resolution condemning Hamas, even though it fell short of the two-third majority needed for its passage.
“This is the first time that a majority of countries have voted against Hamas and I commend each of the 87 countries that took a principled stand against Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the aftermath of the vote that took place late Thursday in New York.
“This is a very important achievement for the US and Israel. I thank the American administration and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for the initiative,” he said.US-sponsored resolution that
passed by 87-57 fell nine votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to be adopted.
Thirty-three states abstained, and another 16 did not vote. The two-thirds majority is based on the number of states who cast yes or no votes, abstentions are not included.
The resolution, presented by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley who said that the world body’s failure to condemn the clear terrorism of Hamas is nothing less than antisemitism, was doomed when a resolution put forward by Bolivia necessitating a two-thirds majority for the resolution to be adopted was approved by three votes: 75 to 72, with 26 abstentions.
Among the countries that voted for the need for a two-thirds majority, or abstained, thereby allowing it to pass, were Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand.
Haley said that the demand for a two-thirds majority was nothing less than a double standard, since no such demand was made last week when the UN passed six resolutions condemning Israel.
“There is nothing more antisemitic than saying that terrorism is not terrorism when it is used against the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” she said. “There is nothing more antisemitic than saying we cannot condemn terrorism against Israel, while we would not hesitate for one minute to condemn the same acts if they were taken against any other country.”
Among those countries who were not among the 87 were some countries with whom Netanyahu has forged close ties such as India, Ethiopia and Kenya, who all abstained. In addition, two countries with whom Israel has close military ties – Azerbaijan and Vietnam – voted against.
On the other hand, Brazil, which until Jair Bolsonaro was elected as president in October
could have been counted on to vote against Israel, voted with it this time around. And Chad, whose president visited Israel for the first time two weeks ago, did not vote, a significant shift from that country’s anti-Israel voting pattern for decades.
In an impassioned statement before the vote, Haley said that “today would be a historic day in the United Nations, or it could be just another ordinary day.”
An ordinary day, she said, would be to pass another resolution condemning Israel, which it did six times last week and 500 times over the years -- and another time later in the day. A historic day would be adopting a resolution against Hamas.
Haley said the resolution did not comment on the specifics of a peace agreement, which hundreds of resolutions have done in the past, but rather it “stands for a foundational element of peace: the rejection of terrorism, because we all know that there would be no peace without mutual agreement that terrorism is unacceptable.”
After noting that Hamas’s charter calls for Israel’s destruction, she ticked off Hamas’ terror record from the suicide bombings of the 1990s and the 2000’s, through the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli civilians, and the launching of flaming kites and balloons sometimes emblazoned with Nazi symbols.
If this was not enough of a reason to condemn Hamas, Haley said, then the organization should be condemned for the suffering it has inflicted on the Palestinians it governs.
“Peace must be built on truth,” Haley said. “I want to take a personal moment and ask my Arab brothers and sisters, is the hatred that strong? Is there hatred toward Israel so strong that you will defend a terrorist organization, one that is directly causing harm to the Palestinian people. Isn’t it time to let that go?”
Despite the contacts Israel has forged with many Arab countries, they voted as one against the resolution, with their spokesmen --including the representative from Saudi Arabia -- strongly condemning Israel in terms reminiscent of years past, before there was any cooperation between the countries.
After the vote, Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon took the floor at the UN and said, “Today we achieved a plurality. That plurality would have been a majority if the vote had not been hijacked by a political move of procedure. But in one strong, courageous voice, we have brought Hamas to justice.”
Danon said that those member states that rejected this resolution “should be ashamed of yourselves.”
“Wait when you will have to deal with terrorism in your own countries,” eh said. “Your silence in the face of evil reveals your true colors. It tells us what side you are really on: a side that does not care for the lives of innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians who have fallen victim to the terrorists of Hamas. Those who endorse terrorism today will be forced to face its deadly consequences tomorrow.”
Danon also took aim at those countries who “sat on the sidelines in an attempt to appear ‘neutral or ‘objective’,” and either abstained or did not cast a vote.
“Let me be clear. There is no such thing here as neutrality. There is no such thing as ‘both sides,’” he said. “There is no moral equivalency. There is a terrorist organization that endangers civilians flagrantly violating the law and there is a state that protects them. Today, the majority of the international community has exposed Hamas. Others have turned a blind eye.”
Israel’s mission a the UN put out a statement after the vote calling it a “historic achievement.”
“For the first time in the history of the United Nations, a record number of countries supported a General Assembly resolution condemning Hamas,” the statement read.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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