Departing UN envoy speaks at Hanukkah ceremony

Haley: After UN vote on Hamas failed, Trump suggested fund cuts as retribution

‘Who do we need to get upset at? Who do you want me to yell at?’ envoy says US president asked her, after motion condemning terror group did not secure approval

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks at a General Assembly debate, December 6, 2018 (screen shot UN web tv)
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks at a General Assembly debate, December 6, 2018 (screen shot UN web tv)

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said that following Washington’s failure to pass a UN resolution condemning Hamas at the General Assembly this week, President Trump suggested cutting funds to countries who did not cooperate and asked: “Who do you want me to yell at?”

While the US-backed draft resolution got a comfortable majority of votes, it fell short of the two-thirds super-majority needed to pass. Eighty-seven countries voted in favor of the resolution, while 57 opposed it. Thirty-three countries abstained and another 23 were not present.

Hadashot news on Saturday aired a video of Haley speaking at Israel’s United Nation’s mission during a Hanukkah candle-lighting event on Thursday, just after the vote fell through.

“The president called and he said, ‘Nikki what happened?’ And I told him, and he goes, ‘Who do we need to get upset at? Who do you want me to yell at? Who do we take their money away?'”

She then added with a smile: “I’m not gonna tell you what I told him.”

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, in the Oval Office at the White House on October 9, 2018. (AFP Photo/Olivier Douliery)

Still, Haley sought to portray the vote as a triumph. “Eighty-seven countries said Hamas was a problem. The tide has changed. It is a new day at the UN,” she said.

Haley, who is departing at the end of the year and will be replaced by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, was presented by Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon with a framed Jewish mezuzah made of a piece of a rocket fired at Israel from Gaza.

Israeli leaders still praised the outcome of Thursday’s vote as a show of wide support for their position against the terror group, which for years has targeted Israel with rockets, bombs and other attacks.

“Today we achieved a plurality. That plurality would have been a majority if the vote had not been hijacked by a political move of procedure,” Danon said after the vote. “But in one strong, courageous voice, we have brought Hamas to justice. For those member states that rejected this resolution, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

The resolution, entitled “Activities of Hamas and Other Militant Groups in Gaza,” would have condemned Hamas “for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk.” It would have been the first General Assembly measure to specifically target the terror group, which is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.

General view of the UN General Assembly on December 6, 2018. (UN/Loey Felipe)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also feted the 87 countries that voted for the measure, noting it was the first time such a large majority had taken “a principled stand against Hamas.”

Hamas, labeled a terror group by Israel, the US, Europe, and elsewhere, hailed the failure of the resolution to pass as a “slap” to Trump’s administration.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also welcomed the result, despite being engaged in a bitter intra-Palestinian rivalry with Hamas over control of Gaza. “The presidency thanked all the states that voted against the American draft resolution, affirming that it will not allow for the condemnation of the Palestinian national struggle,” a statement from the PA’s Wafa mouthpiece read.

Hamas leaders had embarked on a rare diplomatic campaign to garner support against the resolution in the days leading up to the vote, with Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh appealing to Arab countries, the UN and elsewhere.

Among those to vote against the measure were China and Russia, while India abstained, despite forging recent warmer ties with Israel. The measure was widely welcomed in Europe and the Americas, including Argentina and Brazil.

In her introduction of the resolution, Haley had appealed on member states to leave aside their view of how an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal should look like and simply take a stand against terrorism.

“Today could be a historic day at the United Nations,” she said. “The General Assembly has passed over 700 resolutions condemning Israel. And not one single resolution condemning Hamas. That, more than anything else, is a condemnation of the United Nations itself.”

Haley’s resolution first seemed doomed when Bolivia and several Arab states asked just before the vote to require a two-thirds majority.

General Assembly head María Fernanda Espinosa, explaining that several other delegations had approached her with the same request, ruled to have a vote on the matter, which passed 75-72. Twenty-six states abstained.

The resolution would have demanded that “Hamas and other militant actors including Palestinian Islamic Jihad cease all provocative actions and violent activity, including by using airborne incendiary devices.”

Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during a brief press conference before a Security Council meeting at UN Headquarters, July 24, 2018, in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

It also condemned Hamas’s use of resources in Gaza to “construct military infrastructure, including tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas, when such resources could be used to address the critical needs of the civilian population.”

The resolution came weeks after Hamas and other Gaza terror groups fired over 400 rockets into Israel during a two-day flareup of violence with Israel.

The draft resolution also called on all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law, “including in regards to the protection of the civilian population.”

It encouraged “tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation,” as well as “concrete steps to reunite the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority and ensure its effective functioning in the Gaza Strip.”

European diplomats had asked, and the Americans agreed, to insert a clause that states that a future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal should be “in accordance with international law, and bearing in mind relevant UN resolutions.”

However, the document makes no explicit mention of a two-state solution, though virtually all recently passed UN resolutions passed on the subject do.

Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding, but they carry political weight and are seen as a barometer of world opinion.

Ahead of the vote, Haley, who is slated to leave her post in the coming weeks, sent a letter to all UN missions to make clear that “the United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously.”

AFP, Raphael Ahren and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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