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US circulates UN resolution that would condemn Hamas rockets

November 29, 2018

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States circulated a U.N. resolution Thursday condemning the militant Islamic group Hamas, which controls Gaza, “for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence” that puts civilians at risk.

The draft General Assembly resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, “demands that Hamas and other militant actors including Palestinian Islamic Jihad cease activity, including by using airborne incendiary devices.”

It was circulated as the 193-member world body was preparing to vote on four pro-Palestinian resolutions. The U.S. Mission said it expected a vote on the Hamas resolution, which is not legally binding, as early as Monday.

If adopted, it would be the first resolution condemning Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has accused the United Nations of anti-Israel bias, citing the General Assembly’s annual adoption of numerous resolutions supporting the Palestinians. In June, the U.S. withdrew from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, with Haley citing it for longstanding bias against Israel.

Haley also sought in June to amend an Arab-backed General Assembly resolution blaming Israel for violence in Gaza and deploring its “excessive use of force” by adding a condemnation of Hamas attacks on Israel. The U.S. amendment was approved by a 62-58 vote, with 42 abstentions — but that was below the two-thirds majority needed, so it failed. The resolution was then approved by a vote of 120-8 with 45 abstentions.

The draft resolution on Hamas does not include references to previously adopted Security Council resolutions sought by some European Union members during negotiations on the text. Those council resolutions call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and criticize Israel, including for settlement building.

But the U.S. draft does reaffirm support “for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, in accordance with international law, and bearing in mind relevant U.N. resolutions.”

Sweden’s U.N. ambassador, Olof Skoog, told reporters earlier Thursday: “We don’t mind condemning Hamas. They deserve to be condemned.”

But he said that “we also need to be very careful” that Security Council or General Assembly resolutions “always stress the fact that there needs to be a two-state solution.”

Whether the final U.S. draft will get support of the 28 EU nations remains to be seen but one well-informed EU diplomat, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said its members will support it.

The draft resolution says violence against civilians, “particularly acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction only serve to erode trust and hinder efforts to bring about a peaceful solution.”

It also condemns Hamas for using resources that could go to meeting “critical needs of civilians” to instead construct tunnels used to infiltrate Israel and for equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas.

The proposed resolution calls on all parties to respect international human rights and humanitarian law including on protecting civilians and to halt intimidation and violence against medical and humanitarian personnel.

It encourages reconciliation of rival Palestinian groups “and concrete steps to reunite the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.” And it urges Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Middle East Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov to help “de-escalate the situation and address urgent infrastructure, humanitarian, and economic development needs.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, on Tuesday called the proposed U.S. resolution a continuation of the “attack against the Palestinian people.”

He cited the Trump administration’s decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ignoring the Palestinians’ demand that East Jerusalem be the capital of its future state, as well as the cutoff of U.S. funding for the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, and closing of the Palestine Liberation Office in Washington.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon told reporters Tuesday that “the fact that people discuss Hamas in the U.N. is a win-win.”

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