US fails to win enough support at UN to condemn Hamas in Gaza

In this file photo taken on November 26, 2018 US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley addresses the UNSC during a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York. (File/AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018
0

US fails to win enough support at UN to condemn Hamas in Gaza

  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party said: “The Palestinian presidency will not allow for the condemnation of the national Palestinian struggle”

UNITED NATIONS: A US-sponsored draft resolution that for the first time would have condemned the militant Islamic group Hamas, which controls Gaza, failed to win the required two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly on Thursday.
Before the vote on the resolution, the 193-member world body had narrowly voted to require a two-thirds majority for approval as sought by Arab nations for rather than the simple majority urged by the United States.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the assembly before the vote that it could make history and unconditionally speak out against Hamas, which she called “one of the most obvious and grotesque cases of terrorism in the world.”
“What the UN chooses to do today will speak volumes about each country’s seriousness when it comes to condemning anti-Semitism,” she said. “Because there is nothing more anti-Semitic than saying terrorism is not terrorism when it’s used against the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”
But the vote on the resolution to condemn Hamas was 87 in favor against 57 opposed, with 33 abstentions — a plurality but below the two-thirds requirement to adopt it. The vote to require a two-thirds majority was much closer, 75-72, with 26 abstentions and several countries changing their votes to “yes” at the last minute.
In an official statement, Hamas thanked UN member states “that stood by our people’s resistance and the justice of their cause” and attacked Haley who it said “is known for her extremism and her positions that support the Zionist terrorism in Palestine.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party is locked in a bitter decade-long split with Hamas, also welcomed the resolution’s defeat saying: “The Palestinian presidency will not allow for the condemnation of the national Palestinian struggle.”
By contrast, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “large majority” — 87 countries — “that took a stance against Hamas” for the first time, calling it “an important achievement for the United States and Israel.”
The US attempt to condemn Hamas and demand that the militant group stop firing rockets into Israel, using “airborne incendiary devices” and putting civilians at risk sparked a Palestinian-backed amendment sponsored by Bolivia.
It outlined the basis for comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace and referred to a December 2016 Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation” of international law. It also reaffirmed “unwavering support” for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — issues not included in the US draft.
But before the vote on the US draft resolution, Bolivian Ambassador Sasha Llorentty Soliz withdrew the amendment.
That was because the Palestinians and their supporters wanted a vote instead on a short rival resolution entitled “Comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East” sponsored by Ireland that included the exact language of the amendment — but no mention of Hamas.
After the US draft on Hamas failed to win adoption, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the Irish resolution by a vote of 156-6, with 12 abstentions.
It calls for “the achievement, without delay” of lasting Mideast peace on the basis of UN resolutions, singling out the December 2016 measure. And it reaffirms “unwavering support ... for the two-state solution of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders.”
The rival resolutions reflect the deep divisions among the 193 UN member states over the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict — and the failure to end it.
Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, reflecting the Arab view, said the US resolution would “undermine the two-state solution which we aspire to.” And he said it would also turn attention away from Israel’s occupation, settlement activities and “blockade” — whether in Gaza, the West Bank or east Jerusalem which the Palestinians want as their future capital.
Haley sharply criticized the United Nations as having an anti-Israel bias, noting that “over the years, the UN has voted to condemn Israel over 500 times” — an average of 20 times a year.
She stressed that Hamas’ charter “openly calls for the destruction of Israel” and cited a variety of “barbaric terrorist tactics” it has used including suicide bombers and thousands of rockets, flaming kites and balloons.
Haley called condemnation of Hamas “an essential step” to a peace settlement.
The United States changed its initial draft resolution to get backing from the 28-nation European Union, adding that it supports a comprehensive peace agreement “bearing in mind relevant United Nations resolutions.”
But the resolution that was voted on never mentioned a two-state solution or referred to Israeli actions against the Palestinians, which some countries considered unbalanced.
The overwhelming support for the Irish resolution reflects global support for action “without delay” toward an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a two-state solution.


Ramadan in Sudan: Iftar with the ‘flavor of revolution’

Sudanese protesters attend the Friday prayers near the military headquarters in Khartoum during an ongoing sit-in demanding a civilian-led government transition. (AFP)
Updated 19 May 2019
0

Ramadan in Sudan: Iftar with the ‘flavor of revolution’

  • For some this holy month might be the first, without Bashir’s regime, for many years

KHARTOUM: Over the past 30 years, the Sudanese people have lived under the repressive regime of Omar Al-Bashir. But, since the surge of protests that began in the city of Atbara on Dec. 19, in what was to become the start of the Sudanese revolution, citizens hoped that this Ramadan might be the first for many years, and for some, of their entire lives, without the president.

Now, that dream has been realized.
Under Bashir’s rule, poverty stalked the country, but despite the increase in destitution, the values of solidarity and compassion remained strong throughout Sudanese society. Now, as the revolution enters its next phase, those traits endure.
The sit-in in front of the General Command of the Sudanese Armed Forces represents the largest manifestation yet of solidarity and compassion among the general public, who have made this latest protest a symbol of their desire to form a civil government, and turn the country toward the path of democracy and freedom.
Thousands of Sudanese have marched to the rallies, with families arriving hand-in-hand, including their young children in tow, carrying food and drink to prepare for iftar in the courtyard.
The turnout includes hundreds of Sudanese from voluntary organizations providing Ramadan meals to the fasting protesters, and even the soldiers guarding the building, painting a colorful picture of the true spirit of the holy month.
The most prominent charity leader in Sudan, Fares Al-Nour, who was arrested before the overthrow of the Bashir regime, says two centers have been established within the sit-in to supply protesters and soldiers alike for iftar.
Alaa Eddin Sulaiman, an activist, told Arab News that this year’s Ramadan came with the “flavor of the revolution” and that the Sudanese people were expressing joy that the holy month had arrived with Bashir and his regime forced to go.
“We are preparing for a new era, in which the winds of democracy, justice, freedom and supremacy of the law will prevail,” he said.