US calls on UN to blacklist Hamas and punish its backers


US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Security Council should focus on condemning Hamas, not Israel

'Make no mistake, Israel did not cause the problems in Gaza,' Nikki Haley said (Reuters)
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Wednesday 21 June 2017 11:02 BST

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, on Tuesday exonerated Israel of any responsibility for Gaza's humanitarian crisis, calling for a Security Council resolution to blacklist Hamas and punish its backers.

"The Security Council must unite to say that enough is enough," she said on Tuesday.

"We need to pressure Hamas to end its tyranny over the people of Gaza. We should condemn Hamas in this council’s resolutions and statements... And we should designate Hamas as a terrorist organisation in a resolution, with consequences for anyone who continues to support it."

Despite the Israeli-imposed blockade on Gaza, Haley said Hamas is "squarely" responsible for the "terrible humanitarian crisis" in the Palestinian coastal enclave.

"Make no mistake, Israel did not cause the problems in Gaza, even though it is often the usual suspect around here," she said.

Haley added that the Security Council should mainly be concerned with Hamas, not Israel.

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"Every ounce of what we do should be against Hamas. They are a dangerous actor who has no care for the Palestinians, no care for the Israelis, and they are determined to destroy everything in their path," she said.

Haley's remarks came as the UN envoy to the Middle East said Israel is defying last year’s Security Council resolution that called for a halt in settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

In the last month of Barack Obama’s presidency, the US did not veto the resolution, breaking from the long Washington tradition of shielding Israel from criticism in the UN.

Israel militarily occupies the West Bank, where it continues to expand Jewish settlements on land that would be a part of a future Palestinian state.

"The policy of continued illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory contravenes resolution 2334," UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council.

He added that settlement-building undermines "the chances for the establishment of a viable, continuous Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution".

The December 2016 resolution also calls on both parties to refrain from acts of provocation, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, and to condemn all acts of terrorism. "Regrettably, such calls continued to go unanswered," Mladenov said.

Mladenov again warned the council that Gaza was a "tinderbox".

"Two million Palestinians in Gaza can no longer be held hostage by divisions," he said. "For a decade they have lived under the control of Hamas. They have had to deal with crippling Israeli closures, Palestinian divisions and have lived through three devastating conflicts."