World resoundingly rejects US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital capital

28th Dec 2017
World resoundingly rejects US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital capital

(Photo: Abdul Hamid Hobas/AA)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The UN General Assembly has defied threats from the US and overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The General Assembly, which met on December 21, also demanded all countries abide by international law which does not recognise Israel’s 1967 annexation of Palestinian East Jerusalem from Jordan.

128 countries voted in favour of the resolution that categorised the US move as “null and void” among them are major recipients of US aid including Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Speaking to the assembly before the vote, US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, said, “When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have expectations that we will be respected.”  “What’s more, we are being asked to pay for the dubious privileges of being disrespected,” she added.

Haley’s remarks followed a threat from President Donald Trump himself, who mentioned the UN vote at Cabinet meeting on December 20. “We’re watching those votes,” the President said. “Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

The Palestinians’ UN envoy, Riyad Mansour, described the result as a “massive setback” for the Trump administration and accused them of turning the issue of Jerusalem “about them”.

“They did not make it about Jerusalem, so when you make it about them and to only be able to get nine votes to say ‘no’ to it, I think it was a complete failure for their campaign,” said Mansour.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the vote calling the UN a “house of lies”.

“Jerusalem is our capital, we will continue to build there and additional embassies will move to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, whether or not the UN recognises this. It took 70 years for the United States to formally recognise this, and it will take years for the UN to do the same,” said Netanyahu.

Only nine states (including the US and Israel) voted against the resolution. The other countries which supported Washington were Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala and Honduras. There were 35 abstentions including Bosnia and Herzegovina and 21 countries did not vote at all.

The US was further isolated on December 18 when it blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for it to withdraw its unilateral decision. The remaining 14 council members voted in favour of the resolution which expressed “deep regret” over President Donald Trump’s decision.

The non-binding General Assembly resolution affirmed that any move “which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition” of Jerusalem “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas, said: “The vote is a victory for Palestine” and vowed to continue efforts “at all international forums to put an end to this occupation and to establish our Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

Abbas said Trump’s pro-Israel bias had “disqualified” the US from future peace. Abbas also refused to meet with US Vice President, Mike Pence, when he visits the region in January.

Earlier in the month, the Organisation of Islamic Organisation (OIC) recognised East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. The OIC declaration also calls on other nations to follow suit. The 57-member group called on the US to “revoke its decision to recognise Al-Quds as the capital of Israel.”

In an Extraordinary Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, the OIC called on the UN to “end the Israeli occupation” of Palestine. It declared Trump’s administration liable for “all the consequences of not retracting from this illegal decision. [We] consider that this dangerous declaration, which aims to change the legal status of the [city], is null and void and lacks any legitimacy,” the group said.

OIC Secretary-General, Dr Yousef Al-Othaimeen, said the US move “constitutes a clear violation of international law”. And “deals a heavy blow to international relations.”

Al-Othaimeen said the US is “breaking the international consensus regarding the political, legal and historical status of Al-Quds Al-Sharif.”

The OIC declaration came two days after the EU rejected a prediction made by Netanyahu, that most EU countries would follow Trump’s example.

Netanyahu predicted, “All or most EU countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, scoffed at the prediction. “He can keep his expectations for others because, from the EU member states’ side, this move will not come,” she said.

Trump’s decision has ratcheted up tensions in the Middle East with nearly all EU governments condemning it.

Mogherini stressed the European view the move as unhelpful. “The only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both, the state of Israel and the state of Palestine,” she said.

She added. “This is our consolidated position and we’ll continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem.”

EU diplomats had expressed concern about unity on Jerusalem after Hungary broke ranks and refused to take part in the joint declaration against the US. A senior diplomat insisted, “The EU is not any more united against Trump.”

In a meeting with Netanyahu in Paris, French President, Emmanuel Macron, declared Trump’s move a “threat to peace”. He said that the US had “unilaterally recognised something that is not complying with the international law”.

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has also called Trump’s decision “unhelpful” to peace.

The UK’s position on the status of Jerusalem “is clear and long-standing” and “in line with relevant Security Council Resolutions, we regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” she said.

The Jewish community representatives in the UK are in conflict with the UK Government’s stance on Jerusalem. The Jewish Board of Deputies’ called non-recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “an act of post-truth petulance”.

Hours after recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, Trump signed the waiver delaying moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for six months.

US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 1995. However, successive US presidents invoked a built-in waiver postponing the move on grounds of ‘national security’ meaning the law has never taken effect. Trump said two decades of waivers were unproductive. “It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result”.

Global demonstrations

Trump’s decision triggered a series of protests throughout the Muslim world. Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Morocco’s capital Rabat on December 10.

Over ten thousand Indonesians descended to the streets of Jakarta. The country’s President Joko Widodo calling Trump’s move a violation of UN resolutions. Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, went a step further calling Israel a “terrorist” and “child-murderer state” in an address.

“Jerusalem is the apple of our eye. We will not abandon it to the child-murderer state, we will not abandon it to an occupier state,” said Erdoğan.

“We will continue our struggle within law and democracy. In Istanbul, we will unite Islamic countries, leaders and heads of states. Our roadmap will show that it will not be easy for them to realise their plans,” Erdoğan said. Adding Trump’s announcement was “null and void.”

In Beirut, Lebanon, protests turned violent when police fired tear gas and water cannons into protestors near the US Embassy.

Thousands of protesters chanted slogans against Trump’s orders, with some throwing rocks and setting tyres and a large trash container on fire.

Thousands of Iranians also took part in rallies across the country to condemn Trump, State TV aired footage of marchers in several cities. Demonstrations also took place in non-Muslim countries including the UK, France, and the US.

Editorial

Trump defies all international norms to meet election pledge over Jerusalem

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