For the first time, a majority of UN member countries voted to condemn Hamas, but under General Assembly procedures, the measure failed to be officially approved.
The Assembly voted 87 in favor, 57 against, and 33 abstaining, to condemn the Palestinian faction dedicated to the destruction of Israel. But in a vote moments earlier, the Assembly had decided that the Hamas resolution would need two-thirds of nations present to affirm, and the voting results failed to surpass that required level.
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US Ambassador Nikki Haley, whose defense of Israel has been a signature calling during her nearly two-year run, had lobbied hard for European countries and others to join with Washington in condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and for "inciting violence," putting civilians at risk. She has just a few weeks left in her term as US Ambassador at the UN.
"I want to take a personal moment and ask my Arab brothers and sisters: is the hatred that strong?" she asked from the Assembly rostrum before the vote. "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?"
In a statement, Hamas thanked the countries that voted against the measure, and called on "all states that supported the Israeli occupation and the Trump administration to reconsider their stance and rectify their historic and great fault against the Palestinian people."
Hamas said the failure to pass the resolution was "a serious failure for the 'bullying policy' of the Trump administration adopted in the region."
Palestinian UN representative Riyad Mansour blasted "punitive" US policies directed at Palestinians, such as the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. He said all resolutions put forth by the Palestinians seek balance, and he thanked countries that did not follow the US call to condemn Hamas.
Following the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the "sweeping majority" of countries who voted for the draft condemnation.
"While it did not achieve a two-thirds majority, this is the first time that a majority of countries have voted against Hamas and I commend each of the 87 countries that took a principled stand against Hamas," he said.
"This is a very important achievement for the US and Israel," Netanyahu said. "I thank the American administration and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for the initiative."
The Palestinian Liberation Organization, meanwhile, celebrated the failure of the resolution, saying it proves that the world stands with Palestinians. "The wise policy of the (PLO), which has fought and is still fighting to realize the hopes and aspirations of our people for freedom and independence, will remain the guardian of the national project," PLO President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement. "The victory will be in addition to the Palestinian right, no matter how long."
Haley said that, in an average year, the UN General Assembly votes on a resolution opposing Israel twenty times. She asked whether the United Nations, an organization dedicated to world peace, finds terrorism acceptable, if and only if it is directed at Israel.
Mansour al-Otaibi, the permanent representative of Kuwait to the UN, said if the Israeli "occupation" of the Palestinians would end, this resolution would not be necessary.
Haley blasted the use of a two-thirds majority for passage of the Hamas resolution. She charged the Assembly with a double standard for using a simple majority for other resolutions. "This is a decision meant purely to disrupt adoption of the resolution the US put forward," Haley charged.