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UN votes to criticize Israel over Gaza; narrowly rejects US amendment

Helen Corbett, DPA on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK -- The U.N. on Wednesday passed what the U.S. called a "one-sided" resolution calling for Israeli forces to halt violence against Palestinian protesters on the Gaza Strip.

The General Assembly narrowly rejected a last-minute amendment put forward by the United States that would have added a clause to condemn Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

The U.S. amendment did get a majority of votes, but the General Assembly president ruled that a two-thirds majority was needed.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said in a statement this showed the "common practice of turning a blind eye to the U.N.'s anti-Israel bias is changing."

Haley called the Arab-backed resolution totally "one-sided" and said its adoption reflected a "morally bankrupt judgment that the recent Gaza violence is all Israel's fault."

The resolution deplored the use of "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force" by Israel against Palestinians.

It also criticized the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, but failed to explicitly mention Hamas.

There were 120 countries that voted in favor of the text, with eight against and 45 abstaining.

Despite the strong result, some diplomats expressed concern that the adopted text was unbalanced while others worried that the mention of a protection mission for Palestinians was too vague and would raise false hopes.

The Arab-backed text also requested U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres make recommendations on measures to safeguard Palestinians, including on a possible U.N. international protection mission.

Since March 30, scores of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in demonstrations largely organized by Hamas along Gaza's border with Israel.

The vote came after the U.N. Security Council failed to agree on action on June 1 over the escalating violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants on the Gaza border.

Votes in the 15-member Security Council are binding. While General Assembly resolutions carry no legal weight, all 193 U.N. member states are eligible to vote in them.

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