UN General Assembly condemns Israel for Gaza violence


(JTA) — The United Nations General Assembly at an emergency meeting on the Gaza Strip condemned Israel for an “excessive use of force” and rejected U.S. bids to amend the resolution to also condemn Hamas.

The Associated Press reported the resolution’s passage Wednesday evening in a news alert but did not break down the voting.

The resolution, backed by Arab countries, also calls for “protection of the Palestinian civilian population” in Gaza. It is similar to one that was introduced at the U.N. Security Council earlier this month that was vetoed by the United States.

Some 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests along the Gaza border began on March 30, including many who are members of the Hamas terrorist group that controls the strip. There have not been any Israeli casualties, though thousands of acres of Israeli agricultural land and woodlands have been burned by incendiary kites and explosives-laden balloons flown from Gaza into southern Israel in order to start fires.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley opposed the measure targeting Israel. Her amendments condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel, inciting violence during the border protests and using resources that could help civilians build terror tunnels to infiltrate Israel were rejected.

“The nature of this resolution clearly demonstrates that politics is driving the day,” she said in her speech. “It is totally one-sided. It makes not one mention of Hamas, who routinely initiates violence in Gaza. Such one-sided resolutions at the U.N. do nothing to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement thanked Haley for her defense of Israel.

“The U.N.’s incessant focus on Israel not only brings shame to the organization, it also draws attention away from so many other pressing issues that demand the attention of the international community,” he said.

Also thanking Haley was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which called the resolution “outrageous and dangerous.”

Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are nonbinding, while Security Council resolutions are binding.

In a similar scenario in December, the General Assembly approved a resolution condemning the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by a wide margin after the United States vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council.

Nine countries voted against the resolution, including Israel, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras and Togo, and 35 abstained, including EU member states Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Latvia. The rest of the European Union was among the 128 nations that voted in favor.

Haley invited the countries that did not support the resolution to a reception to thank them for their friendship.

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