United Nations rejects U.S. bid to condemn Palestinian group Hamas

United Nations rejects U.S. bid to condemn Palestinian group Hamas

The vote on the resolution was 87-57 in favor with 33 abstentions, a majority below the two-thirds that was required.

"Our four countries will vote against the resolution".

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the result "a confirmation of the legitimacy of resistance and a great political support for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause".

The resolution condemned Hamas for "repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk" and for its military activities in Gaza including constructing tunnels "to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas".

If adopted, it would mark the first time the assembly has taken aim at Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Resolutions at the United Nations can carry political weight but are non-binding.

The Trump administration has been a strong supporter of Israel, recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and this year moving the USA embassy there from Tel Aviv.

"Hamas tactics have changed again, as it has adopted still more methods of killing Israeli civilians and damaging Israeli civilian property".

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon lamented after the vote that a decision to condemn Hamas had been "hijacked" by procedural votes and hailed the "broad support from the world" for condemning Hamas.

Thursday's resolution does not only target Hamas, he said, but rather multinational support for the Palestinian people.

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In Rafah, protesters burned American, Israeli and United Kingdom flags in protest of the resolution.

For the first time, a majority of United Nations member countries voted to condemn Hamas, but under General Assembly procedures, the measure failed to be officially approved.

Earlier this week, Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh had appealed to Arab leaders and UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres in an effort to thwart the draft resolution.

The United States, Israel, Australia, Liberia, Marshall Islands and Nauru voted against that measure. "The General Assembly has never uttered the word in any resolution about Hamas", Ambassador Nikki Haley said.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, also welcomed the resolution's defeat saying: "The Palestinian presidency will not allow for the condemnation of the national Palestinian struggle".

He added that the measure would take the world's attention away from the main issues in the conflict, namely the Israeli occupation, illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and the siege on the Palestinian territories, including Gaza. In speeches, Iran said the resolution was based on "deception" and ignored the "illegal occupation" by Israel.

"The resolution proposed by the United States would right a historic wrong", Haley told the assembly ahead of the vote. "To its shame, the General Assembly has avoided the truth of Hamas terrorism for far too long".

The U.S. has made the argument that the U.N.is biased against Israel for years, but has intensified that argument during the Trump administration.

The amendment 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 global law.

The assembly also adopted by a wide margin of 156 to six with 12 abstentions 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 United Nations resolutions. It passed by a wide margin.

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