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UN denounces US’ Jerusalem move in vote

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United Nations General Assembly (Xinhua/Wang Ying/IANS)

Rebuffing US, General Assembly votes resolution on Jerusalem; India backs move….reports Arul Louis from New York

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 21, 2017 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Dec. 21, 2017 shows the voting of a United Nations General Assembly resolution on the status of Jerusalem during a rare emergency special session at the UN headquarters in New York. The General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution on the status of Jerusalem that will make U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital have no legal effect. (Xinhua/Wang Ying/IANS) by .
Photo shows the voting of a United Nations General Assembly resolution on the status of Jerusalem during a rare emergency special session at the UN headquarters in New York. (Xinhua/Wang Ying/IANS)

 In a rebuff to the US, the UN General Assembly on Thursday, passed by two-thirds majority, a resolution criticising President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move Washington’s embassy there. India joined the overwhelming Assembly majority to vote for the resolution that demands that the US comply comply with Security Council decisions against changing the status of Jerusalem.

The resolution that was passed by a two-thirds majority on Thursday demanded Washington comply with Security Council decisions against changing the status of Jerusalem and declared US and Israeli action on the city “null and void”.

It, however, only expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”, stopping short of naming the US or condemning it outright.

Defying Trump’s threats to cut off aid to countries that voted for the resolution, 128 countries voted for the resolution, while nine countries joined the US and Israel in voting against it.

An unusually large number – 35 countries – abstained, showing that Trump’s threats had some effect.

The resolution was sponsored by Yemen on behalf of the Arab Group in the UN, and by Turkey on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

It followed the US veto on Monday of a similar resolution in the Security Council introduced by Egypt.

While the Assembly resolutions do not have the legal clout of the Council resolutions, they carry political clout.

Both sides – the US against the Assembly resolution and Islamic and Arab countries for it – mounted a strong campaign.

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 21, 2017 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Dec. 21, 2017 shows the voting of a United Nations General Assembly resolution on the status of Jerusalem during a rare emergency special session at the UN headquarters in New York. The General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution on the status of Jerusalem that will make U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital have no legal effect. (Xinhua/Wang Ying/IANS) by .
The resolution that was passed by a two-thirds majority on Thursday demanded Washington comply with Security Council decisions against changing the status of Jerusalem. (Xinhua/Wang Ying/IANS)

US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley repeated Trump’s warning on aid before the vote describing support for it an “insult” to her country.

“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the UN,” she said. “And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said that by voting for the resolution nations would be rejecting attempts at blackmail and intimidation. He warned that Washington’s action could lead to a religious war that “has no boundaries” and only served the interests of extremists.

The Assembly resolution followed the US veto on Monday of a similar resolution in the Security Council introduced by Egypt. All the other 14 Council members voted for it, isolating the US.

The Assembly resolution was sponsored by Yemen on behalf of the Arab Group in the UN, and by Turkey on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

India's Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. (Photo: Indian Mission/IANS) by .
India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal. (Photo: Indian Mission/IANS)

Representing the OIC, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Jerusalem was the holy city of three monotheistic religions and its historic status had to be preserved.  Referring to the US’ threats to withhold aid, he said such “bullying” was unethical and votes were not for sale.

While the Assembly resolutions do not have the legal clout of the Council resolutions, they carry political clout, especially when endorsed by a two-thirds majority. Previous Council resolutions have said that the status of Jerusalem and territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 war should not be altered unilaterally.

While close US allies like Britain, France and Japan, which had voted for the resolution in Council, again broke ranks with it in the Assembly, there were some surprises. Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims to follow a progressive foreign policy, Canada abstained.

Five of the countries that voted with the US and Israel were tiny Pacific island nations like Micronesia, and two were from Latin America. No country of any significance politically or in size voted for the resolution, even if some of them abstained or absented themselves.