India abstains from voting on General Assembly resolution

United Nations: India has abstained from voting on a US-sponsored UN General Assembly draft resolution that would have condemned for the first time the activities of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza. The resolution ‘Activities of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza’ got 87 votes in favour, 58 against with 32 abstentions. The resolution failed to be adopted on Thursday as it could not garner two-thirds support in the General Assembly.

India was among the 32 cou­ntries that abstained from voting on the resoluti­on which would have condemned Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk”, and for its use of resources in Gaza to construct military infrastructure including tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas.

The resolution had specified that further engagement by the UN Secretary-General, and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, in efforts to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, was also needed. Through a procedural vote held before the main vote on the resolution, the Assembly had voted to apply the two-thirds majority requirement for the adoption of the draft.

Before the voting, US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley, said despite more than 500 General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel, not one condemning Hamas has ever been adopted. Hailey, the highest ranking Indian-American in the Tru­mp administration who is stepping down from the post at the end of this month, described the two-thirds decision, which passed by just a handful of votes, as “unfair” adding the Hamas resolution was an opportunity for Sta­tes to “do the right thing”.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said the resolution had been a chance for “UN redemption” and that those who had voted against it “should be ashamed of them­selves”. He said Hamas exploits the people of Gaza, adding the organisation is in flagrant violation of international law. There is no difference between Hamas, and Al Qaeda and Boko Haram, he said, adding as the Jewish people are celebrating Hanukkah, the plurality of Member States of the United Nations has chosen to condemn Hamas.
A number of States explained their reasons for voting against the resolution.

The Saudi Arabian representative stated that, since 1967, Israel has not respected any General Assembly or Security Council resolutions, whil Kuwait and Iran’s representatives said the resolution “ignores” and “deflects attention from” the root causes of the conflict.

The representative of Kuwait called for respecting relevant UN resolutions in efforts to address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and stressed the importance of a two State solution based on pre-1967 borders. Meanwhile, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday hailed majority backing in the UN General Assembly for condemning militant group Hamas even though a draft resolution failed to win enough votes to pass.

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