Palestinians seek United Nations vote blaming Israel; US wants changes

Blanche Robertson
June 14, 2018

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addresses a United Nations General Assembly meeting ahead of a vote on a draft resolution that would deplore the use of excessive force by Israeli troops against Palestinian civilians at U.N. headquarters in NY, U.S., June 13, 2018.

The official also said that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman's return to Washington early in the week was not to prepare for presenting the peace plan but rather was a routine visit for general talks and to update Kushner and Greenblatt ahead of their trip to the region.

The draft asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days "on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation", including "recommendations regarding an global protection mechanism".

In the General Assembly, the confrontation over Gaza, reflecting decades-old divisions between Israel and the Palestinians, played out with a few new twists.

Kushner and Greenblatt also have laid the blame for violence on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip exclusively on Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza.

Arab and Islamic nations then chose to seek a vote on virtually the identical resolution at Wednesday's emergency meeting of the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes.

Haley expressed optimism, however, about the number of countries that supported the USA amendment to condemn Hamas. He said he will discuss the Gaza situation with United States envoys Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman when they arrive in Israel next week to discuss the "ways to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab world in general". While the measure received support from a narrow majority, it did not earn two-thirds support, and failed.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Tuesday night that he is lobbying 191 member states - all but the USA and Israel - and expects to win.

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The U.N. resolution condemning Israel passed by a vote of 120-8, with 45 abstentions.

Haley sent a letter to all United Nations member states Tuesday calling the proposed General Assembly resolution "fundamentally imbalanced" for "ignoring basic truths about the situation in Gaza" and not mentioning Hamas.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour urged the assembly before the vote to address the escalating violence in Gaza and "the crisis" of protecting civilians.

The resolution is unlikely to lead to any action against Israel because the United States, a close ally of the nation, would veto it. He called the USA amendment a "bad-faith attempt" to shift the focus away from "the core objective of protecting civilians and upholding global law".

The General Assembly largely ignored Trump's threats at the time to cut off aid to any country that went against the United States and voted 128-9 to denounce the US president's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and declare it "null and void".

The resolution deplored Israel´s use of "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force" against Palestinian civilians and called for protection measures for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Unlike the Security Council, resolutions adopted by the assembly are non-binding and there is no veto. It "deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas", but doesn't say who is doing the firing.

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