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November 28, 2018 7:49 pm

Israel’s Ambassador to UN, Danny Danon, Urges European Union States to Support US-Backed Resolution Condemning Hamas

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Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN General Assembly. Photo: UN / Manuel Elias.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations has urged European Union countries to get behind a  US-sponsored resolution at the UN General Assembly that condemns Hamas for its missile attacks against the Jewish state.

“The resolution is an American resolution, and I know that the US is still negotiating the language with the EU,” Ambassador Danny Danon told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. “Hopefully, the EU will join this resolution. I don’t see a reason for a member state of the EU not to condemn Hamas, when the EU itself already designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.”

The resolution, which is likely to be voted on in the coming days, marks the second time this year that the US has attempted to secure UNGA support for a resolution condemning Hamas. The Islamist organization’s repeated missile attacks on Israel have resulted in three wars since it seized power in a violent coup in 2007, ousting the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

The first US-sponsored condemnation of Hamas, in June 2018, took the form of an amendment to an Arab-backed resolution eviscerating Israel. After the defeat of an Algerian procedural move to prevent the UNGA from even voting on the US amendment, the text slamming Hamas missile attacks and its use of Palestinian civilians as human shields won a plurality of votes, with 62 in favor, 58 opposing and 42 abstaining. But lacking the requisite two-thirds majority, the amendment went on to be defeated.

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Still, the vote in June demonstrated that there were many UN member states willing to condemn Hamas, if given the opportunity. This time around, Danon is cautiously hoping that the tally in favor of the US resolution will increase, but he is acutely aware of the reluctance of many countries to openly align with Israel in a public vote.

The ambassador pointed out that his election in 2016 as chair of the UNGA’s sixth committee, which deals with legal affairs, had been the result of a secret ballot. “The vote on this issue will not be with a secret ballot, it will be a public vote,” Danon said. Yet he does not rule out that some of the 58 countries that abstained on the US Amendment in June will vote in favor this time around.

“We hope that they will join the moral majority of the UN and support this resolution,” Danon said.

The draft resolution,  which was seen by The Algemeiner, is moderately worded — it contains no condemnation of Hamas’ antisemitic ideology and the word “terrorism” does not appear. Its key clause is the condemnation of “Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk.”

The draft further “condemns the use of resources by Hamas 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 text also encourages “tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation, including in support of the mediation efforts of Egypt, and concrete steps to reunite the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority and ensure its effective functioning in the Gaza Strip.” But as Danon noted, even with that wording, the resolution will nonetheless be opposed by the Palestinian delegation.

“I find it very interesting that you see the Palestinian delegation trying to block this resolution and actually defend Hamas, when at the same time their leaders in Ramallah are accusing Hamas of committing crimes against the Palestinian people,” Danon remarked.

The timing of the US resolution is also significant. Thursday Nov. 29 is the 71st anniversary of the UNGA’s adoption of Res. 181 partitioning British Mandate Palestine into Arab and Jewish states — a compromise that was famously rejected by the Arab League countries. For the last fifty years, the final week of November has traditionally seen the UN debating anti-Israel resolutions, with Nov. 29 designated as the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”

“It’s a show every year that allows the Palestinians to come and speak against Israel, to spread lies and hatred,” Danon said. “Instead of actually moving forward, they hold an empty vote that has zero effect on the ground.” Elaborating, he emphasized that he was “disappointed” by those UN member states “who cooperate with this show, instead of saying to the Palestinians, enough with the payments rewarding terror, enough with the hatred, recognize Israel and move on.”’

Yet despite these ongoing challenges, Danon regards the UN General Assembly as a far healthier place in 2018 than it was in 1975, when the body notoriously voted in favor of a resolution that equated Zionism with racism.”Whenever we have a tough day at the UN, I tell my colleagues that we have to remember what the Israeli diplomats here faced in 1975,” he commented. “It’s a different era today, we are in a much stronger position today, we have diplomatic ties with more than 160 countries.”

Danon argued that his approach to the UN stems from his view “that we are a full member state, we should be eligible to run for every position and present resolutions, and that’s what we are doing.”

Nor is Israel’s attention at the world body solely restricted to combating anti-Israel resolutions at bodies like the UNGA and the UN Human Rights Council. “We can become a valuable member of the UN, contributing to agriculture, to peacekeeping operations, sharing our technology with UN bodies and UN member states,” Danon said. “People appreciate Israel. Our challenge is to close the gap between how states speak and vote in public, and what we hear from them behind closed doors.”

Asked about the impact of Nikki Haley — the outgoing US ambassador to the UN — Danon paid tribute to her determined opposition to the institutionalized discrimination targeting Israel at the world body.

“We had the support of the US in the past, and we will have the support of the US in the future, but the fact that Ambassador Haley publicly told everybody the truth about Israel was very valuable,” Danon said. “When they heard it from me, it was one thing, but when they heard it from the American ambassador it was different, and we are grateful for that.”

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