Outcome aside, UN vote condemning Hamas a ‘win-win’ for Israel — envoy
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Outcome aside, UN vote condemning Hamas a ‘win-win’ for Israel — envoy

Ahead of vote, Danny Danon says US-backed General Assembly resolution puts Gaza terror group on global agenda

In this photo from June 13, 2018, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks to the General Assembly before a vote to condemn Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, at UN headquarters in New York. (Don Emmert/AFP)
In this photo from June 13, 2018, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks to the General Assembly before a vote to condemn Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, at UN headquarters in New York. (Don Emmert/AFP)

Thursday’s vote in the United Nations General Assembly on Hamas is a “win-win” for Israel, even if the US-sponsored resolution condemning the Gaza-based terrorist organization fails to pass, according to Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.

“The mere fact that the entire world now deals with Hamas, with all ambassadors sending this resolution to their capitals, is already a great accomplishment for us,” Danon told The Times of Israel.

“It’s a win-win. If we win, it will be a historic achievement. And if we don’t win, at least we succeeded in putting Hamas’s activities on the global agenda,” he added.

The vote, which is scheduled to be held between 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Israel time, will be preceded by a vote on whether the resolution requires a basic or two-thirds majority to pass.

While it was possible that, for procedural reasons, a two-thirds majority was needed for the resolution to pass — which would dramatically decrease the text’s chances of passage — there was a “very good chance that at least a majority of voting countries would support the draft.

“We need to wait for the vote, but I am sure that we will get a majority of the countries to vote in favor of the resolution,” Danon said.

“We worked hard — our mission and also the American delegation. We believe that we will get the majority today at the General Assembly, something which in the past nobody would have believed could ever happen,” he added.

Illustrative: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2018, in New York. (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

Danon also said the Palestinian pressure on Muslim countries to vote against the resolution “worked against them.”

“Hamas turned to countries; Iran is very strongly engaged in this matter. In my eyes, this didn’t help the Palestinians, as it revealed who stands behind Hamas,” he said.

Ahead of Danon’s remarks, the Foreign Ministry said it was optimistic ahead of the vote but was bracing for a “tense evening” at the UN.

If adopted, the resolution would mark the first time the 193-nation assembly has taken aim at Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

The measure is being spearheaded by outgoing US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who has repeatedly accused the United Nations of an anti-Israel bias and has strongly supported Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas in Gaza.

The United States has won crucial backing from the European Union, with all 28 countries set to support the resolution, which condemns Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and demands an end to the violence.

Despite Israeli optimism, diplomats warn the session could go awry over procedural issues, notably whether a majority of two-thirds will be required for adoption — as Arab states are urging — or a simple majority.

Nikki Haley speaks at a UN Security Council Meeting on the Middle East on November 19, 2018 (Courtesy)

There was also much diplomatic wrangling after the Palestinians presented an amendment to the US text to include a reference to UN resolutions that condemn Israeli settlements, a call for negotiations on East Jerusalem and support for the two-state solution.

In negotiations with the Europeans, the United States agreed to add a mention of “relevant UN resolutions” without specifying which ones. The US text does not refer specifically to the two-state solution.

After talks with the Europeans late Wednesday, the Palestinians agreed to withdraw their amendment and instead table a separate resolution, diplomats said.

That move increased the chances that the US measure will be adopted, as well as the Palestinian-drafted resolution. EU countries plan to support both measures.

Members of the Hamas terror group’s military wing attend the funeral of six of its fighters at a cemetery in the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on May 6, 2018. (Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The US draft resolution “demands that Hamas and other militant actors including Palestinian Islamic Jihad cease activity, including by using airborne incendiary devices.”

The vote at the assembly could be a crowning achievement for Haley as she prepares to step away from public life.

Diplomats say the US administration has lobbied hard to win votes.

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

The US put forward the resolution as it prepares to unveil new peace proposals that the Palestinians have already rejected in light of their boycott of the Trump administration for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year.

AFP contributed to this report.

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