In a public relations blow to Israel’s right to self-defense, the United Nations General Assembly voted not to condemn Hamas violence and in favor of international protection for the Palestinian people along the Gaza border, in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem.
“The unceasing focus of the United Nations on Israel shames the organization, it also diverts attention from other burning issues that require the attention of the international community,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
“Israel appreciates the firm support of the Trump administration in Israel at the United Nations and Ambassador [Nikki] Haley’s resolute statement today, which exposed the hypocrisy of the bias against Israel at the UN,” he said.
The results were so expected that he released a statement even before the end of the dramatic three-hour debate in New York that ended late Wednesday evening.
Diplomats resoundingly applauded the Palestinians as a resolution that censured Israeli actions in Gaza passed with a vote of 120-8, with 45 abstentions.
The text made no mention of Hamas, a terrorist group which controls the Gaza Strip and which has a long history of violent attacks against Israel.
The six nations who joined Israel and the US in opposing the pro-Palestinian measure were Australia, Micronesia, Nauru, Togo, Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands.
The European Union was split with 12 member states – including Belgium, France and Spain – supporting the Palestinians.
The other 16 member states, including Germany and the United Kingdom, abstained by way of standing with Israel and the US.
Switzerland, New Zealand, Iceland and Norway supported the Palestinian call for international protection against Israel, while Canada abstained.
An American amendment condemning Hamas was struck down, even though it had a slim majority – 62-58 and 42 abstentions.
The vote fell short of the required two-thirds majority to pass. Haley challenged General Assembly president Miroslav Lajcak’s ruling on the matter.
Lajcak asked the UN General Assembly to choose between his interpretation of UN rules and that of Haley’s. The General Assembly voted 73-66, with 26 abstentions, to support Lajcak, thereby dooming the US attempt to condemn Hamas.
PLO executive committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi thanked the international community for its support. It “sends a strong and clear message that they will not succumb to American political blackmail or attempts of intimidation and coercion by external parties.
Such a move also constitutes an important investment in peace and human dignity, as well as in the security and stability of the region and beyond,” she said.
The vote occurred after almost 11 weeks of Hamas-led violent riots along Israel’s border
, during which the IDF killed over 100 Palestinians and injured over 13,000.
During one particularly violent day last month, Palestinians in Gaza launched over 180 rockets and mortars into Israel, which caused physical damage but few injuries.
IN NEW YORK, Haley lashed out at the UN stating: “Today the UN made the morally bankrupt judgment that the recent Gaza violence is all Israel’s fault. It is no wonder that no one takes the UN seriously as a force for Middle East peace,” Haley said.
“But the common practice of turning a blind eye to the UN’s anti-Israel bias is changing. Today, a plurality of 62 countries voted in favor of the US-led effort to address Hamas’s responsibility for the disastrous conditions in Gaza. We had more countries on the right side than the wrong side,” she said.
Prior to the vote, Haley said that her country’s amendment “reflects the minimum truth of what is going on in Gaza. It is the least that any self-respecting international organization or nation can do for the cause of peace.”
“To those who are unsure about how to vote, I ask: What part of our amendment is objectionable? Is it objectionable to condemn Hamas for firing the rockets at civilians?” Haley asked.
“Today’s choice for the General Assembly is simple. It is the choice between using our time here to advance peace and security, or using it to stoke hatred and conflict. This vote will tell us much about which countries are serious about accuracy and reconciliation and which countries are bound by their political agendas,” she said.
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour argued that his people had the same right to protection as any other nation.
“We cannot remain silent in the face of the most violent crimes and human rights violations being systemically perpetuated against our people,” he said.
It’s not enough to be concerned or condemn, Mansour said. “We need action. We need protection of our civilian population.”
Mansour made a number of pointed comments against the United States. He charged that they had acted in “bad faith” in an attempt to deflect the focus away from the initial resolution.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the General Assembly prior to Haley’s statement that if the UN approved the Palestinian resolution, “it will have signed in writing its unequivocal support for terrorism against Israel.”
“Let us not pretend,” Danon said. “If ISIS were to attack Stockholm tomorrow, ISIS would be held responsible for the attack. If al-Qaeda assaulted Paris, the UN would issue the strongest condemnation of al-Qaeda.”
“Only when Hamas attacks Israel does the UN seek to blame Israel,” Danon said.
“The moral majority in this chamber should not tolerate a different standard for Israeli victims of terror,” he said. “I have a simple message for those who support this resolution. You are the ammunition for Hamas’s guns. You are the warheads for Hamas’s missiles.”
The General Assembly debate was called by the Palestinian Authority and Algeria on behalf of the Arab Group and Turkey on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
They put forward a resolution that supported the idea of a UN protection force for Palestinians against the IDF.
The Palestinian Authority turned to the UN General Assembly after the Security Council rejected a similar resolution two weeks ago. The resolution called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit a written report within 60 days with recommendations on how to ensure the safety of the Palestinian population “under Israeli occupation” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”a