US Checkmated: 14 to 1 NAYs in UN vote on Status of Jerusalem

In a historic snub to the United States, a UN security council resolution calling for the withdrawal of Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been backed by every council member except the US, which used its veto. The Guardian had filed a detailed report on this development.

The unanimity of the rest of the council was a strong rebuke to the Trump administration over its dangerous and unilateral move earlier this month, which upended decades of international consensus.The Egyptian-drafted resolution did not specifically mention the US or Trump but expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.

The push for a vote – which came in the knowledge that the US would use its veto – followed US president Donald Trump’s controversial –and much criticised –decision to overturn decades of policy by declaring that the US recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that he plans to move its embassy there.

Both the UK and France had indicated in advance that they would back the text, which demanded that all countries comply with pre-existing UN security council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967. This includes conditions that state that the city’s final status be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The US was furious, threatening that this was “an insult” that would not be forgotten. None less than the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, made this statement. “The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy,” she said.

This tabling of the resolution followed a weekend of negotiations aimed at securing the widest consensus possible on the issue. The vote has underlined once again the widespread international opposition to the US move, even among some of its closest allies.

The UN Security Council resolution came just ahead of a planned trip by the US vice-president, Mike Pence, to Jerusalem on Wednesday that was set to take place amid a deep rupture in US-Palestinian relations.However, Pence announced on Monday night that he was postponing the trip until February, citing the imminent congressional votes on tax reform, set to take place in the House and Senate starting on Tuesday. “The vice-president is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line,” his spokeswoman said.
Palestinian officials had warned that in the event of a US veto on the security council, they would also seek a resolution at the general assembly.Speaking before the vote, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, said the text was in line with London’s position on Jerusalem as an issue that must be resolved through negotiations.

In open defiance of the UN and in an apparent rejection of the authority of the security council, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Dann, said before the vote: “Members of the council can vote again and again – a hundred more times. It won’t change the simple fact that Jerusalem is, has been, and always will be the capital of Israel.” 
In the immediate aftermath of the US veto, Abbas announced that the Palestinian leadership would move to seek full membership of the United Nations, and try to raise the issue at an emergency meeting of the UN general assembly.

Palestine was admitted to the UN under the same observer status as the Vatican, but the road to full state membership is more complicated than persuading 14 security council members to back existing resolutions on the status of Jerusalem.

While Palestinians would probably get sufficient votes in the UN general assembly, it would first need to secure nine affirmative votes in the security council for the recommendation, with no vetoes.

The Palestinians and their supporters in the UN appear to be attempting to force the Trump administration into using its veto in ways that isolate both Israel and the US, in the hope of drawing in wider international mediation of the peace process.

One country whole-heartedly welcomed the US veto. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted: “Thank you, Ambassador Haley. On Hanukkah, you spoke like a Maccabi. You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies. Thank you, President Trump.”



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