A resolution that would have condemned the militant group Hamas and its attacks on Israel failed to pass the United Nations on Thursday, despite an aggressive campaign by the United States and Israel.
The U.S.-drafted resolution got 87 votes in favor and 57 against, with 33 abstentions, meaning it fell short of the required two-thirds majority needed to pass. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, argued for a simple majority vote, but a last-minute rule change was passed that foreshadowed the resolution’s failure.
The vote was a personal defeat for Haley in what is likely to be one of her final major actions as the U.S. envoy. She is resigning effective at the end of the year and has made the fight against criticism of Israel in the world body a signature feature of her tenure.
The vote also represented a political disappointment for the Trump administration, which had lobbied hard to get many Arab states to break away from their routine support of the Palestinian position and support the anti-Hamas resolution. But all the Arab states voted against it, even those that have signed peace treaties with Israel and are otherwise seeing warming relations with Jerusalem.
Their refusal to back the U.S. resolution comes just weeks before the White House prepares to unveil a proposal to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Support from the Arab states is considered crucial to getting it launched, and the U.N. vote suggests it might get a standoffish reception.
Haley broke away from her prepared remarks and made an impassioned plea to the Arab states to reach for a breakthrough in a conflict that has stretched seven decades since the founding of Israel.
“I want to take a personal moment and ask my Arab brothers and sisters – is the hatred that strong?” she said. “Is the hatred toward Israel so strong that you’ll defend a terrorist organization? One that is directly causing harm to the Palestinian people? Isn’t it time to let that go? For true peace and security in the entire region, isn’t it time for both sides to let this go?”
Danny Danon, the Israeli envoy to the U.N., scolded the states that rejected the resolution.
“Your silence in the face of evil reveals your true colors,” he said. “It tells us what side you are on – the side that does not care about the lives of innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians who have fallen victim to the terrorists of Hamas.”
The Kuwaiti representative, speaking on behalf of the Arab bloc, condemned violence and extremism but expressed concern that the U.S. draft resolution skirted any mention of a two-state solution and sought only to condemn one party in the conflict.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter that he “commended” all 87 countries that took a stand against Hamas. The fact that a majority backed it, though insufficient for the resolution to pass, was a “very important achievement for the United States and Israel,” he wrote.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Carol Morello, Loveday Morris