Palestinians seek United Nations vote blaming Israel; US wants changes

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The UN General Assembly was set to vote on Wednesday on condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza in a resolution opposed by the United States, which wants the world body to blame Hamas for the violence. The Palestinian, Turkish, Venezuelan, Bangladeshi and Bolivian representatives were among those whose speeches compared Israel to the former apartheid regime in South Africa, invoked the Arabic word "Naqba" ("catastrophe", a common term in the Arab world to describe Israel's creation 70 years ago) and accused Israel of committing war crimes.

An amendment presented by the United States condemning Hamas for "inciting violence" along the border with Gaza failed to garner the two-third majority needed for adoption.

The U.S. amendment to condemn Hamas, which was voted on first, was approved by a vote of 62-58 with 42 abstentions. The U.S. narrowly lost that vote 66-73 with 26 abstentions.

Finally, the assembly voted on the original Palestinian-backed resolution, approving it 120-8 with 45 abstentions.

She said the US will seek an amendment condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel.

"By supporting this resolution you are colluding with a terrorist organization, by supporting this resolution you are empowering Hamas", Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon told the General Assembly before the vote.

"Malaysia will continue to play an active role as a United Nations member state in contributing towards efforts to address the underlying issues and to attain a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict", it said.

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USA ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listens during a Security Council meeting concerning the situation in the Middle East involving Israel and Palestine, at United Nations headquarters, December 18, 2017 in New York City.

Mansour stressed: "We need action. Is that a crime to ask for?". We need protection for our civilian population.

Arab and Islamic nations then made a decision to seek a vote on virtually the identical resolution at Wednesday's emergency meeting of the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes.

The General Assembly largely ignored Trump's threats at the time to cut off aid to any country that went against the USA and voted 128-9 to denounce the president's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and declare it "null and void".

"Israel's use of lethal force when there was no imminent threat to life has taken a heavy toll in life and limb", said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. It "deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas", but doesn't say who is doing the firing.

While Security Council resolutions are legally binding, General Assembly resolutions are not, although assembly spokesman Brendan Varma stressed Wednesday that they do reflect "political will" as well as global opinion.

In December 128 countries defied President Donald Trump and voted in favor of a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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