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UN General Assembly votes to condemn Trump’s Jerusalem recognition

UN General Assembly holds the 37th plenary meeting of the tenth emergency special session on 21 December 2017 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]
UN General Assembly holds the 37th plenary meeting of the tenth emergency special session on 21 December 2017 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

The UN General Assembly has voted to condemn the US designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Numerous international leaders and diplomats gave speeches prior to the vote at the 37th plenary meeting of the tenth emergency special session that was called by a block of Arab nations, Turkey and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

A total of 128 countries voted in favour of the resolution, with 35 countries abstaining and nine members voting against. The bill also rejects the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City.

The meeting was opened by Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany from Yemen who emphasised that the announcement of US President Donald Trump was a breach of the United Nation’s law. He called the move “a blatant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nations, and all Muslims and Christians of the world” on an issue which is the underlying “source of unrest in the Middle East”.

How did they vote?

  • A total of 128 countries voted in favour of the resolution
  • 9 states voted against: the US, Israel Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala and Honduras.
  • 35 countries abstained, including five EU states, Australia and Canada.
  • 21 delegations were absent from the vote, suggesting Trump’s warning over funding cuts and Israel’s lobbying may have had some effect.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki then took the podium, strongly condemning the move and citing the immutable ties between Palestinians to the holy city.

“We are seekers of rights and peace despite the injustice that has befallen our people, our women, our children,” he emphasised.

Read: Trump is a bully, the UN must stand up to him

He expressed regret that the US had vetoed the decision at the UN Security Council on Monday and remained adamant in its recognition: “Today the US once again misses the opportunity to go back on an illegal and provocative decision; it misses an opportunity to join the international community.”

Al-Malki also called on Israel to recognise that its occupation was a form of colonialism that the international community has not tolerated through its numerous resolutions against its illegal activity.

“We wonder how Israel has not realised that the countries here are representing people that have suffered for many decades from colonialism and oppression … these countries and their peoples are loyal and Palestine will not forget their support,” Al-Maliki concluded.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevut Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey’s disapproval of the move, stating that the decision “was an outrageous assault to all universal values”.

“On behalf of the entire Turkish nation I say that Turkey will never let Al-Quds down. The Palestinian people will never be left alone. The world is bigger than five,” he ended, referring to the power of the General Assembly as being greater than that of the will of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Read: We are all to blame for Trump’s decision on Jerusalem

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon (R) greets US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (L) after the UN Security Council meeting in New York, US on 18 December 2017 [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slamming the UN from the outset for holding such a vote. She spoke of the numerous monetary and diplomatic contributions from the US to the UN, implying that the organisation was ungrateful by targeting a US decision in such a way.

“When a nation is singled out for attack in this organisation, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the privilege of being disrespected. In the case of the US we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege.”

Haley mentioned Trump’s decision only to claim that it would have little impact on the region as a whole, and was not an international matter, but rather the will of the American people: “The decision does not preclude a two-state decision, if that is decided upon … The decision does nothing to harm peace efforts. Rather the President’s decision reflects the will of the American people.”

“No vote in the UN will make any difference to that [the decision]. But this vote will make a difference to how the Americans see the UN. This vote will be remembered,” she concluded, echoing her comments yesterday that the Trump Administration would take names of those who voted against the recognition.

Read: Why America’s declaration on Jerusalem is wrong

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon echoed the US’ strong rhetoric against the UN.

“No UNESCO declaration, no empty speeches, no General Assembly resolution will ever divide us from Jerusalem,” he vowed.

He also condemned those countries that supported the resolution, claiming they were being manipulated by the Palestinians.

“Those who support today’s resolution are like puppets. You are like puppets pulled by the strings of Palestinian puppet masters. You are like marionettes forced to dance why the Palestinian leadership looks on with glee.”

Numerous other international representatives, including those from Pakistan, Indonesia, the Maldives, Iran and China spoke in favour of the resolution and expressed their support for the Palestinian people. The vote was passed by a significant majority, as have other resolutions upholding international law.

Yesterday, US President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to countries that vote in favour of the resolution. The US has already cut aid to the UN several times in the past year and has started preparing to leave its cultural arm UNESCO over the UN’s alleged anti-Israel bias.

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