WASHINGTON: The Kingdom’s ambassador to the United Nations spoke out against a US-sponsored draft resolution that would have condemned Hamas for the first time.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the General 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.”
Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said the resolution would “undermine the two-state solution which we aspire to” and that 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.
The resolution failed.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party is locked in a bitter decade-long split with Hamas, welcomed the defeat.
“The Palestinian presidency will not allow for the condemnation of the national Palestinian struggle.”
But 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 titled “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.
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.