Haley fails in UN bid to condemn Hamas

US Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley addresses the United Nations Security Council meeting on Ukraine in New York. (AFP pic)

UNITED NATIONS: A bid championed by US Ambassador Nikki Haley to condemn the Palestinian Hamas movement at the United Nations for firing rockets at Israel failed to secure enough votes for adoption on Thursday.

The US-drafted resolution won 87 votes in the General Assembly, falling short of the two-thirds majority required for adoption. Fifty-eight countries opposed the measure and 32 abstained.

Haley, who steps down from her post at the end of the year, has repeatedly accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias and has defended Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

“The resolution proposed by the United States would right a historic wrong,” Haley told the assembly ahead of the vote. “More importantly, it would put the General Assembly on the side of truth and balance in the effort to achieve peace in the Middle East.”

It was the first-ever proposed resolution condemning Hamas to be presented to the 193-nation assembly.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon lamented after the vote that a decision to condemn Hamas had been “hijacked” by a procedural motion that required adoption by a two-thirds majority, instead of a simple majority.

Kuwait had asked the assembly, on behalf of Arab countries, to require a two-thirds majority, which was narrowly endorsed by a vote of 75 in favor, including EU countries, 72 against and 26 abstentions.

The United States had won crucial backing from the European Union, with all 28 countries supporting the US measure that would have condemned Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and demands an end to the violence.

The European Union, like the United States, considers Hamas a terror group.

The assembly was to vote later on a Palestinian-drafted measure, presented by Ireland, calling “for the achievement, without delay, of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East” based on UN resolutions.

The vote at the assembly took place as Haley prepares to step away from public life even as polls show she remains one of the most popular members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

Haley rattled the United Nations when she arrived in January 2017 vowing that the United States will be “taking names” of countries that oppose Trump’s foreign policy.

Ahead of the vote, 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.”

“She would like to go out with something,” said a Security Council diplomat of the US-drafted resolution.

Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding, but they carry political weight and are seen as a barometer of world opinion.

The US defeat at the General Assembly came as the Trump administration 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 Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. International consensus has been that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.