US changes tactics at UN: From defending Israel to offensive
After US vetoes Kuwait resolution at Security Council calling to condemn Israel for use of 'excessive force' but failing to mention Hamas, Turkey and Algeria submit similar resolution to General Assembly; US submits amendment condemning Hamas as well, which is expected to fail, thus showing world's hypocrisy.
The UN General Assembly is expected to vote Wednesday on a similar resolution Kuwait tried to pass earlier this month at the UN Security Council, which condemned Israel for using "excessive force" against the Palestinians and called for a UN protection force to defend Gazans.
Kuwait's resolution passed at the UN Security Council, but was vetoed by the US. Washington then presented its own resolution calling on the council to condemn Hamas. The resolution failed to pass, but focused the discussion on Hamas's activities.
The resolution, this time submitted by Turkey and Algeria, is expected to pass thanks to the automatic Muslim majority. While the US has no veto right in the General Assembly as it does at the Security Council, the assembly's decisions are non-binding.
As they at the Security Council, the Americans once again submitted an amendment to the draft resolution, which includes the condemnation of Hamas for its rocket fire at Israeli communities and the violence along the border.
The General Assembly will first vote on the American amendment, and if it passes, the amended version of the resolution will be brought to a vote.
If the amendment fails to pass, the General Assembly will vote on the original resolution, which makes no mention of Hamas.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley sent a letter to all UN member states Tuesday calling the proposed General Assembly resolution "fundamentally imbalanced" for "ignoring basic truths about the situation in Gaza" and not mentioning Hamas.
She proposed an amendment condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the Gaza-Israel border fence, "thereby putting civilians at risk." The proposal also would condemn the diversion of resources in Gaza to building tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to fire rockets and express "grave concern" at the destruction of the Kerem Shalom crossing point to Israel "by actors in Gaza."
Haley said the amendment "is not controversial" and simply condemns "behavior we should all recognize as harmful to the Palestinian people."
The draft General Assembly resolution demands that Israeli forces stop "any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force." It calls for "immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip."
It also "deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas," but doesn't say who is doing the firing.
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 international protection mechanism."
US and Israeli diplomats expect many countries to abstain from the vote on the American amendment while voting for the condemnation of Israel in the original resolution, thus showing the world is willing to condemn Israel but not Hamas.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Tuesday night that he is lobbying 191 member states—all but the US and Israel—and expects to win.
Standing with a half dozen Arab and Islamic supporters Friday, the Palestinian ambassador said Guterres "should utilize all the tools available to him in the (UN) Secretariat and on the ground, and with all of the collective mind of all of us who are ready and willing to help in any possible way."
Meanwhile, Israel's Foreign Ministry and embassies around the world are working to convince as many countries as possible not to take part in the vote, or at the very least not to speak at the discussion.
Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon lauded the new American policy. "We commend the American initiative which makes it clear the days Israel was attacked at the UN without a fitting response are over. Countries that refuse to back a resolution condemning Hamas's terrorism are backing terrorism," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.