The UN General Assembly will vote Thursday on a US-drafted resolution that would condemn the Palestinian Hamas terror movement, a measure championed by US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
The United States won crucial backing from the European Union for the draft resolution that condemns the firing by Hamas of rockets into Israel and demands an end to the violence.
If adopted, it would mark the first time that the assembly has taken aim at Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
All 28 EU countries agreed to support the measure after the United States included a mention of relevant UN resolutions in a text that does not, however, refer to the two-state solution.
In a statement, the US mission to the United Nations said it had hoped to put the draft resolution to a vote on Monday but that the Palestinians had pushed for a delay until Thursday.
“The issue before the United Nations on Thursday is not whether it supports one form or another of a Middle East peace plan,” the US mission said.
“Each country will be asked to vote for or against the activities of Hamas, along with other militant groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
“If the UN cannot bring itself to adopt this resolution, then it has no business being involved in peace discussions,” it added.
The European Union, like the United States, considers Hamas a terror group, but the 28-nation bloc is divided over how to support peace efforts.
Haley, who will step down as UN ambassador in January, has steadfastly supported Israel in its confrontation with Hamas and chastised the United Nations for criticizing both sides. Hamas openly seeks to destroy Israel.
The vote on Thursday will follow the adoption in the assembly of about a dozen resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that condemn Israeli settlements and call for progress toward the two-state solution.
Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding, but they carry political weight and are seen as a barometer of world opinion.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday sent an open letter to United Nations General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa and to its member states, slamming the US-led push to condemn its rocket fire at Israeli cities and calling this an effort to “delegitimize Palestinian resistance.”
“We in the Islamic Resistance Movement — Hamas are following up with great anger and condemnation the ongoing and miserable efforts by the United States of America, not only by adopting the Israeli narrative of the conflict, but also by providing all the necessary material and moral support for the Israeli occupation to continue its aggression against our people and deprive them of their basic rights of freedom, independence and self-determination, guaranteed by all international conventions and laws,” Haniyeh wrote in the letter.
It claimed that international humanitarian law legitimizes the Palestinian struggle, due to an article in the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions that states: “The situations referred to in the preceding paragraph include armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.”
International law prohibits the intentional targeting of civilian population in all contexts of war.
Earlier this month, Hamas fired more than 400 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip in the space of a single day, killing at least one person — a Palestinian man living in Israel with a work permit — and injuring dozens more.
Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon responded to the Hamas letter by saying that “a terrorist organization going to the UN for assistance is like a serial killer asking the police for assistance.”
“Hamas speaks about international law while it fires rockets into civilian populations, holds the bodies of IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens, and uses its own people as human shields,” Danon said.
The United States put forward the resolution as it prepares to unveil new peace proposals that the Palestinians have already rejected.
The Palestinians have severed ties with the administration of President Donald Trump after the decision nearly a year ago to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and declare the city Israel’s capital.
The US administration has also cut more than $500 million in Palestinian aid.
The Palestinians see the city as the capital of their future state. International consensus has been that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.