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News, December 2017
Despite Haley's Threats, UN General Assembly Opposes Trump's Decision to Consider Palestinian Jerusalem as Israel's Capital
December 21, 2017
The UN General Assembly vote today against Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was supported by 128 states, opposed by 9 states, with 35 nations abstaining, and 21 who did not vote at all.
It's worth noting that the countries which opposed it, in addition to the US and Israel, are Guatemala, Honduras, Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo!
General Assembly demands all States comply with UN resolutions regarding status of Jerusalem
UN.ORG, 21 December 2017 –
By an overwhelming majority, Member States in the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday “demanded” that all countries comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem, following an earlier decision by the United States to recognize the Holy City as the capital of Israel.
Through a resolution adopted by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 9 against, with 35 abstentions, the 193-member Assembly expressed “deep regret” over recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem and stressed that the Holy City “is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant UN resolutions.”
Action in the Assembly today follows a failed attempt by the Security Council on Monday adopt a similar text reflecting regret among the body’s members about “recent decisions regarding the status of Jerusalem,” with a veto from the United States, a permanent member of the Council.
Ahead of that failed resolution, Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council that the security situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory had become more tense in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision on 6 December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Subsequently, Yemen and Turkey, in their respective capacities as Chair of the Arab Group and the Chair of the Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, requested the President of the General Assembly to “urgently resume’ the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly in accordance with the so-named ‘Uniting for peace’ procedure.
This procedure, under Assembly resolution 377 (1950), is a pathway around a Security Council veto. By it, the Assembly can call an emergency special session to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures,” if the Security Council fails to act or if there is lack of unanimity among the Council’s permanent members, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Since the tenth such meeting, the Assembly has temporarily adjourned the emergency special session and authorized “the President of the General Assembly […] to resume its meeting upon request from Member States,” allowing for speedy consideration by the body of urgent issues.
The most recent resumed emergency session was in 2009 when the Assembly called a meeting on East Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Resolutions in the Assembly are non-binding and do not carry the force of international law as do measures agreed in the Security Council.
Today’s resolution demanded that “all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.”
The General Assembly further affirmed that “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”
In that regard the Assembly also called upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to Security Council resolution 478 adopted in 1980.
Reiterating its call for the reversal of the negative trends that endanger the two-State solution, the Assembly urged greater international and regional efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Find out more about the Assembly’s emergency special sessions and resolution 377 (1950) here
Defying Trump, over 120 countries at U.N. condemn Jerusalem decision
By Michelle Nichols, December 21, 2017
Today, 128 countries defied President Donald Trump on Thursday and voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favor. A total of 128 countries backed the resolution, which is non-binding, nine voted against and 35 abstained. Twenty-one countries did not cast a vote.
Trump’s threat appeared to have some impact, with more countries abstaining and rejecting the resolution than usually associated with Palestinian-related resolutions.
Nevertheless, Washington found itself isolated as many of its Western and Arab allies voted for the measure. Some of those allies, like Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, are major recipients of U.S. military or economic aid, although the U.S. threat to cut aid did not single out any country.
A spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the vote “a victory for Palestine.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the vote.
Earlier this month, Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy by announcing the United States recognized Jerusalem - home to major Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites - as the capital of Israel and would move its embassy there.
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the 193-member General Assembly ahead of Thursday’s vote.
“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations, and so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit,” she said.
Later on Thursday, Haley asked the 64 countries who voted no, abstained or did not cast a vote to come to a Jan. 3 reception “to thank you for your friendship to the United States,” according to the invitation seen by Reuters.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who were furious over Trump’s move. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the full city.
French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said in a statement: “The resolution adopted today only confirms relevant international law provisions on Jerusalem.” France voted in favor.
Netanyahu described the resolution as “preposterous.” “Jerusalem is our capital, always was, always will be. But I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theater of the absurd,” he said in a video on his Facebook page.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in a 1967 war and Palestinians want it as the capital of a future state they seek.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet the vote was a clear international rejection of the Trump administration’s “thuggish intimidation.”
Among countries that abstained were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.
Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo joined the United States and Israel in voting no.
Honduras’ vote against the motion comes after the United States signaled it would recognize President Juan Orlando Hernandez as the winner of an election the Organization of America States said should be scrapped over fraud claims.
Since Trump’s election, Mexico has aligned its foreign policy more closely with Washington in what diplomats say is an attempt to curry favor in face of threats to withdraw from the NAFTA free trade agreement.
Trump’s rhetoric on cutting aid startled some U.S. allies but State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday’s vote was just one factor that Washington would take into consideration in its foreign policy.
“I just wanted to reiterate what the president had said yesterday and that that was the U.N. vote is really not the only factor that the administration would take into consideration in dealing with our foreign relations and countries who have chosen to vote one way or the other,” she told reporters.
According to figures from the U.S. government’s aid agency USAID, in 2016 the United States provided some $13 billion in economic and military assistance to countries in sub-Saharan Africa and $1.6 billion to states in East Asia and Oceania.
It provided some $13 billion to countries in the Middle East and North Africa, $6.7 billion to countries in South and Central Asia, $1.5 billion to states in Europe and Eurasia and $2.2 billion to Western Hemisphere countries, according to USAID.
The General Assembly vote was called at the request of Arab and Muslim countries after the United States vetoed the same resolution on Monday in the 15-member U.N. Security Council.
The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”
Thursday’s resolution “affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”
The U.N. action comes a year after the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.
That was approved with 14 votes in favor and an abstention by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, which defied heavy pressure from longtime ally Israel and Trump, who was then president-elect, for Washington to wield its veto.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem, Parisa Hafezi in Ankara, Leah Schnurr in Ottawa and Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Alistair Bell and James Dalgleish
U.N. Defies Trump's Threats by Passing Resolution on Jerusalem
By Kambiz Foroohar and Jonathan Ferziger
Bloomberg, December 21, 2017
The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a measure critical of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel despite U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s warning that the move could put funding for their nations and the global body at risk.
The nonbinding UN resolution passed on Thursday by a vote of 128-9, with 35 nations abstaining. Key U.S. allies backing the measure over Trump’s threats included the U.K., France, Italy, Japan and Germany. The U.S. was joined in opposition by countries including Guatemala, Nauru and Micronesia. Abstentions included Australia, Canada and Argentina.
“The United States will remember this day when it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly,” Haley said at the U.N. podium ahead of the vote. “We will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they often do, to pay even more. This vote will be remembered.”
That threat was repudiated by speakers from countries supporting the resolution, which says the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations. A similar resolution had 14 votes in favor in the 15-member Security Council last week, prompting Haley to exercise the first U.S. veto since 2011.
‘This is bullying’
“We were all asked to vote no or face the consequences,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said before Thursday’s vote. “Some even threatened to cut development aid. This is bullying. It is unethical to think that the votes and dignity of member states are for sale.”
The debate follows Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement, which included a decision to begin moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The announcement prompted criticism across the Middle East and from key U.S. allies in Europe who said it would harm efforts to foster Middle East peace.
Haley and her team argued afterward that 21 nations not present for the vote — including Moldova, Zambia and the Caribbean island nations of Saint Lucia and St. Kitts & Nevis — should be counted as backing the U.S. position.
A U.S. spokesman said the vote breakdown made clear that many countries gave their relationship with the U.S. priority over an attempt to isolate the country over a decision it had the sovereign right to make.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a similar point, with his office issuing a statement praising “the great number of countries that did not vote for the action.”
U.S. allies who backed the measure didn’t see it that way.
“The resolution adopted today only confirms relevant international law,” said Francois Delattre, France’s ambassador to the U.N. “It is more important than ever to rally the international community around the agreed parameters of the peace process, and this of course includes the U.S.”
Palestinian officials said Trump’s Jerusalem decision disqualified the U.S. from being a mediator in any Israel-Palestinian negotiations.
Haley’s threat carries weight because the U.S. is the largest contributor to U.N. operations. Based on a formula agreed to by member nations, the U.S. provides 28.5 percent of the $7.3 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget and 22 percent of the core budget of $2.7 billion.
Haley walked out of the General Assembly soon after her speech, though members of the U.S. delegation remind behind, awaiting the vote.
But the very nature of the U.N., which depends on compromise and negotiation, will also limit the reach of U.S. threats. Haley is expected to introduce a new resolution to the Security Council on Friday tightening sanctions on North Korea. For that measure to pass, the U.S. will need nations including China and Russia to refrain from vetoing the proposal.
Except for Israel, which supports the U.S. position, most major U.S. allies opposed to Trump’s Jerusalem decision stayed away from the podium on Thursday. Countries speaking in support of the measure included North Korea, Yemen, Turkey, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, South Africa and Iran. Those nations also came under intense fire by Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon.
“Those who support today’s resolution are like puppets pulled by the strings of the Palestinian puppet masters,” Danon said. “If this body were really united for peace, it would pass a resolution condemning Palestinian violence.”
Haley this week warned other countries against supporting the resolution, saying Trump “has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us.”
Trump weighed in on the Jerusalem vote on Wednesday.
“I liked the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations to all of those nations that take our money and then they vote against us in the Security Council, they vote against us potentially at the Assembly,” Trump said. “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let ’em vote against us.”
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