UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly will vote Thursday on a US-drafted resolution condemning the Palestinian Hamas movement, in what could mark US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s parting gesture at the United Nations.
Haley, who will step down as UN ambassador at the end of the year, has repeatedly accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias and strongly supports Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas in Gaza.
If adopted, it would mark the first time the 193-nation assembly has taken aim at Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
The United States has won crucial backing from the European Union, with all 28 countries set to support the US measure that condemns Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and demands an end to the violence.
Diplomats however warn the session could go awry over procedural issues, notably whether a majority of two-thirds will be required for adoption or a simple majority.
There was also much diplomatic wrangling after the Palestinians presented an amendment to the US text to include a reference to UN resolutions that condemn Israeli settlements, call for negotiations on East Jerusalem and pledge support for the two-state solution.
In negotiations with the Europeans, the United States agreed to add a mention of “relevant UN resolutions” without specifying which ones. The US text does not refer specifically to the two-state solution.
After talks with the Europeans late Wednesday, the Palestinians agreed to withdraw their amendment and instead table a separate resolution, diplomats said.
That move increased the chances that the US measure will be adopted, as well as the Palestinian-drafted resolution. EU countries plan to support both measures.
Haley rattled the United Nations when she arrived in January 2017 vowing that the United States will be “taking names” of countries that oppose President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
Ahead of the vote on Thursday, the US ambassador sent a letter to all UN missions to make clear that “the United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously.”
The vote at the assembly could be a crowning achievement for Haley as she prepares to step away from public life.
Diplomats say the US administration has lobbied hard to win votes.
“She would like to go out with something,” said a Security Council diplomat.
EU backing for the US measure buttressed Haley’s stance.
The European Union, like the United States, considers Hamas a terror group, but the 28-nation bloc is divided over how to support peace efforts.
Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding, but they carry political weight and are seen as a barometer of world opinion.
The United States put forward the resolution as it prepares to unveil new peace proposals that the Palestinians have already rejected.
The Palestinians have severed ties with the Trump administration after the decision a year ago to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and declare the city Israel’s capital.
The US administration has also cut more than US$500 million (RM2 billion) in Palestinian aid.
The Palestinians see the city as the capital of their future state. International consensus has been that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.
The General Assembly session to vote on the US draft resolution is scheduled to begin at 3pm (2000 GMT).