The United Nations General Assembly has rejected a U.S.-sponsored resolution seeking to condemn Palestinian Islamic resistance group Hamas, which administers the besieged Gaza Strip.
The resolution, which was backed strongly by Israel, needed a two-thirds majority to pass but the proposal failed to cross the threshold, with 87 nations voting in favour and 57 voting against, while 33 countries abstained.
The United Kingdom voted to condemn Hamas while no Muslim country followed suit.
The earlier vote to require a two-thirds majority, which followed a procedural move requested by Kuwait, was much closer: 75-72, with 26 abstentions.
Outgoing US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, a staunch defender of Israel, said before the vote: “The United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously… Before the General Assembly can credibly advocate compromise and reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israel, it must on record, unambiguously and unconditionally, condemn Hamas terrorism.”
In an official statement, Hamas thanked UN member states “that stood by our people’s resistance and the justice of their cause” and attacked Haley who, it said, “is known for her extremism and her positions that support the Zionist terrorism in Palestine.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri described the vote as a “slap” to President Trump’s administration.
“The failure of the American venture at the United Nations represents a slap to the US administration and confirmation of the legitimacy of the resistance,” Zahri wrote on Twitter.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, also welcomed the resolution’s defeat saying: “The Palestinian presidency will not allow for the condemnation of the national Palestinian struggle.”
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said the countries that rejected the draft resolution should be ashamed.
The Gaza Strip, home to two million Palestinians, has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade.
In 2006, Hamas beat Fatah in parliamentary elections in the Gaza Strip and, a year later, fighting between the rival factions broke out.
When Hamas eventually took control, Israel responded by enforcing a land, sea and air blockade on Gaza and banning its residents from working in Israel.
Egypt followed suit, effectively sealing the Strip – often described as the world’s largest prison – from the outside world.
Gaza’s continued isolation has devastated its economy, impoverished its population and left 60 percent without jobs, adequate electricity and health services.