In Blow to U.S. Administration and Israel, UN Fails to Pass anti-Hamas Resolution

Resolution received a majority of the votes, but fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary to pass it after Palestinian Authority put up strong opposition

UN Ambassador to the U.S. Nikki Haley addresses the Security Council at UN Headquarters, New York City, November 26, 2018.
\ CARLO ALLEGRI/ REUTERS

WASHINGTON – The resolution condemning Hamas, which was presented by the U.S. before the UN General Assembly on Thursday, fell short of the required two-thirds majority and failed to pass.

The failure is a disappointment for the Trump administration and the Israeli government: both invested diplomatic efforts in getting the resolution to pass, and ran into strong opposition from the Palestinian Authority.

The resolution, which did receive the majority of votes, mainly failed to pass because the General Assembly held a separate vote on the size of the majority needed to pass the resolution about 20 minutes before the vote. The U.S. asked that only a simple majority would be needed to pass the resolution, while Kuwait asked for a two-thirds majority. The Kuwaiti request won a slim majority, and as a result, the passage of the anti-Hamas resolution became impossible.

>> Opinion: How Trump’s anti-Hamas UN resolution is creating unusual Palestinian unity 

The final tally was 87 votes in favor of the resolution, 57 against and 36 abstentions.

All the Arab countries voted against the resolution, despite a concentrated effort by the Trump administration in recent days to ensure their support. Even Arab countries that have reportedly warmed up to Israel recently, such as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman, voted against denouncing Hamas on the world stage. The same was true for Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

This result represents a failure for the Trump administration’s strategy of trying to convince the Arab world to break away from the Palestinian position. The Arab countries also supported the earlier vote demanding a two-thirds majority in order to pass the resolution, thus ensuring its failure.

The resolution on Hamas was also seen as the last major vote in which Nikki Haley, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the UN, will be involved. Haley announced in October that she is resigning from her post. Two White House officials said late Thursday that Trump will nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, a former Fox News correspondent and anchor with no prior policy or political experience, as ambassador.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement on the vote saying, "The draft condemnation of Hamas in the UN General Assembly received a sweeping majority by countries that stood against Hamas. 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. This is a very important achievement for the U.S. and Israel. I thank the American administration and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for the initiative."

The UN General Assembly also voted on a  second resolution offered by Ireland and pushed by the Palestinian Authority, in favor of a two-state solution. It includes condemnation of Israeli settlements and a reference to the parameters of a future peace agreement.

The results of the UN vote to require a two-thirds majority on the Hamas resolution, December 6, 2018.
The results of the UN vote to condemn Hamas, December 6, 2018.

The resolution passed overwhelmingly, with 156 countries voting in favor. Only Israel, the U.S., Australia, Liberia and the Marshall Islands voted against it.

Originally, the Palestinian Authority was trying to propose amendments to the U.S.-supported resolution on Hamas, such as adding to the text a condemnation of Israeli policies in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The Trump administration fought against the amendment and sent letters to a number of key Arab countries asking them to support the resolution, as reported on Tuesday in Haaretz.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East peace process, Jason Greenblatt, has asked Arab countries to support the resolution based on the fact that they oppose terrorism and want stability in the region. In a letter addressed to diplomats from Morocco, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar, Greenblatt called on the Arab countries to ignore the Palestinians' opposition to the resolution.

Greenblatt wrote the diplomats that the PA's resistance to the resolution was hypocritical, seeing as the PA views Hamas as an opponent and sanctions the group. 

Following the vote, Israel's envoy to the UN Danny Danon tweeted: "For the first time at the UN, a record 87 countries condemned Hamas for its rocket fire and use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes against Israel. I thank Nikki Haley for her hard work in forming an unprecedented coalition. We will continue to fight for the truth!"

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau, called the result an important achievement for the entire Palestinian people and all the countries that took a moral stance and voted against the resolution.

Haniyeh said he appreciated the efforts made by the Palestinian Authority and its ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, and that this proves the Palestinian national issue can unite the Palestinian people against the challenges it faces.