UN re­jec­tion on Ha­mas a ‘slap’ for US

Fox an­chor set to be new am­bas­sador

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD - NEW WASH­ING­TON: REUTERS AFP

YORK: A US res­o­lu­tion cham­pi­oned by am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley at the UN to con­demn the Pales­tinian Ha­mas move­ment for fir­ing rock­ets at Is­rael has failed to win enough votes for adop­tion.

The pro­posed mea­sure won 87 votes in the Gen­eral Assem­bly, fall­ing short of the re­quired twothirds ma­jor­ity.

Fifty-eight coun­tries op­posed the mea­sure and 32 ab­stained.

Ms Ha­ley, who steps down from her post at the end of the year, has re­peat­edly ac­cused the UN of hav­ing an anti-Is­rael bias and has de­fended Is­rael in its lat­est con­fronta­tion with Ha­mas, the Is­lamist mil­i­tant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

It was the first pro­posed res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Ha­mas to be pre­sented to the 193-na­tion assem­bly, which has been meet­ing since 1946.

Speak­ing ahead of the vote, Ms Ha­ley said the mea­sure “would right a his­toric wrong” and “put the Gen­eral Assem­bly on the side of truth and bal­ance in the ef­fort to achieve peace in the Mid­dle East”.

“The ques­tion be­fore us now is whether the UN thinks ter­ror­ism is ac­cept­able if, and only if, it is di­rected against Is­rael,” she told the assem­bly.

Ha­mas praised the out­come of the vote, de­scrib­ing it as a “slap” to Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has taken a firm pro-Is­raeli stance in ad­dress­ing the Mid­dle East peace process.

“The fail­ure of the Amer­i­can ven­ture at the UN rep­re­sents a slap to the US ad­min­is­tra­tion and con­fir­ma­tion of the le­git­i­macy of the re­sis­tance,” Ha­mas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri wrote on Twit­ter, us­ing a phrase com­monly used to re­fer to armed groups that op­pose Is­rael.

Is­raeli am­bas­sador Danny Danon lamented af­ter the vote that a de­ci­sion to con­demn Ha­mas had been “hi­jacked” by pro­ce­dural votes and hailed the

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will nom­i­nate State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert as US am­bas­sador to the UN, a source fa­mil­iar with his de­ci­sion said, se­lect­ing some­one with no prior pol­icy or po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence to deal with some of the world’s thorni­est is­sues.

The de­ci­sion could be an­nounced as early as to­day, the source said.

Ms Nauert, whose nom­i­na­tion would re­quire Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, is a for­mer “broad sup­port from the world” for con­demn­ing Ha­mas.

Kuwait had asked the assem­bly, on be­half of Arab coun­tries, to re­quire a two-thirds ma­jor­ity, which was nar­rowly Fox News Chan­nel cor­re­spon­dent and an­chor.

She be­came the State De­part­ment’s spokes­woman in April 2017 and was named ear­lier this year as the act­ing un­der­sec­re­tary for pub­lic diplo­macy and pub­lic af­fairs.

If con­firmed, Ms Nauert, 48, would suc­ceed Nikki Ha­ley, who said in Oc­to­ber she would leave the post at the end of the year.

Ms Nauert, who ear­lier this year had been con­sid­ered a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor to White House spokes­woman Sarah San­ders, gained ex­pe­ri­ence on diplo­macy by work­ing at the State De­part­ment, but she lacks the po­lit­i­cal and pol­icy en­dorsed by a vote of 75 in favour, in­clud­ing Euro­pean coun­tries, 72 against and 26 ab­sten­tions.

The US had won cru­cial back­ing from the EU, with all 28 coun­tries sup­port­ing the Amer­i­can cre­den­tials of Ms Ha­ley, a for­mer South Carolina gov­er­nor. Hav­ing the di­rect sup­port of the Pres­i­dent and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo could but­tress her im­age, how­ever, among diplo­mats at the UN, who have bris­tled at Mr Trump’s “Amer­ica First” for­eign pol­icy.

Mr Trump said last month that Ms Nauert was “ex­cel­lent,” adding, “She’s been a sup­porter for a long time. The Pres­i­dent is weigh­ing a num­ber of other endof-year staff changes, in­clud­ing re­plac­ing chief of staff John Kelly, two of Mr Trump’s ad­vis­ers said yes­ter­day. mea­sure that would have con­demned Ha­mas for fir­ing rock­ets into Is­rael and de­manded an end to the vi­o­lence.

The EU, like the US, con­sid­ers Ha­mas a ter­ror group.

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 UN res­o­lu­tions.

The US, Is­rael, Aus­tralia, Liberia, Mar­shall Is­lands and Nauru voted against that mea­sure.

The vote at the assem­bly took place as Ms Ha­ley pre­pares to step away from pub­lic life even as polls show she re­mains one of the most pop­u­lar mem­bers of Mr Trump’s cab­i­net.

Ms Ha­ley rat­tled the UN when she ar­rived in Jan­uary last year vow­ing that the US would be “tak­ing names” of coun­tries that op­posed Mr Trump’s for­eign pol­icy.

Ahead of the vote, the US am­bas­sador sent a let­ter to all UN mis­sions to make clear that “the US takes the out­come of this vote very se­ri­ously”.

“She would like to go out with some­thing,” said a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil diplo­mat of the US-drafted res­o­lu­tion.

Res­o­lu­tions adopted by the Gen­eral Assem­bly are non­bind­ing, but they carry po­lit­i­cal weight and are seen as a barom­e­ter of world opin­ion.

The US de­feat at the Gen­eral Assem­bly came as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­pares to un­veil long-awaited peace pro­pos­als, pos­si­bly in the first months of next year.

The Pales­tini­ans have sev­ered ties with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion since the de­ci­sion a year ago to move the US em­bassy to Jerusalem and de­clare the city Is­rael’s cap­i­tal.

The Pales­tini­ans see East Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of their fu­ture state. In­ter­na­tional con­sen­sus has been that Jerusalem’s sta­tus must be ne­go­ti­ated be­tween the two sides.

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