In a collective act of defiance toward Washington, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, for a resolution which opposed and rejected US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Major political powers such as Britain, France, Germany and Japan voted for the resolution, while some of US’ allies like Australia and Canada, abstained. India also voted in favour of the resolution demanding that the United States of America rescind its December 6 declaration on Jerusalem. India voted with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives, in favour of the resolution which was passed with 128 votes.
The nine countries that voted a “no” were the US, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, the Marshall Islands and Togo. Among the abstentions were Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Mexico. The absent countries included Kenya, which was the fifth-largest recipient of US aid last year, Georgia and Ukraine, all of which have close US ties. READ MORE
The resolution, co-sponsored by Turkey and Yemen, called Trump’s recognition “null and void” and reaffirmed 10 Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
It also “demands that all states comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the holy city of Jerusalem and not to recognise any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions”. Trump had threatened to cut funding to countries that did not back the US recognition.
While New Delhi has, as a norm, always voted in favour of Palestine at the UN, India had in July 2015 abstained from a vote against Israel at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva — this was seen as a subtle shift in India’s policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian issue. After Trump’s announcement on December 6, New Delhi had said that “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country”.
Here’s how different world leaders reacted to UNGA’s resolution:
Iran: Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed the UNGA resolution and called it a “global no” to intimidation by President Donald Trump. “A resounding global NO to Trump regime’s thuggish intimidation at #UN,” tweeted Zarif.
A resounding global NO to Trump regime’s thuggish intimidation at #UN.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 21, 2017
Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expects Trump’s administration to rescind its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital following a UN vote approving a resolution rejecting the US.move. “We welcome with great pleasure the UN General Assembly’s overwhelming support for a historic resolution on Al-Quds Al-Sharif. We expect the Trump administration to rescind without further delay its unfortunate decision, whose illegality has been clearly established by UNGA,” Erdogen said on Twitter.
We welcome with great pleasure the UN General Assembly’s overwhelming support for a historic resolution on Al-Quds Al-Sharif. We expect the Trump administration to rescind without further delay its unfortunate decision, whose illegality has been clearly established by UNGA.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RT_Erdogan) December 21, 2017
Palestine: Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour called the vote a victory not only for the Palestinians but for the United Nations and international law, saying US Ambassador Nikki Haley “failed miserably” in persuading only seven countries aside from the US and Israel to vote against the resolution. “And they used unprecedented tactics, unheard of in the diplomatic work at the UN, including blackmail and extortion,” he said.
Yemen: Yemeni Ambassador Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany warned that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem undermines any chance for peace in the Mideast and “serves to fan the fires of violence and extremism.” He called Trump’s action “a blatant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nations, and all Muslims and Christians of the world,” and “a dangerous violation and breach of international law.”
French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre: “The resolution adopted today only confirms relevant international law provisions on Jerusalem.”
Botswana: “Botswana will not be intimidated by such threats and will exercise her sovereign right and vote based on her foreign policy principles, which affirm that Jerusalem is a fundamental final status issue, which must be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions,” Bostwana’s ministry of external affairs.
Israel: Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he completely rejects the “preposterous” UN resolution declaring the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “null and void.” In a video posted to Facebook, Netanyahu said that Jerusalem always was, always will be” Israel’s capital. He also says he appreciates that “a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theatre of the absurd.” Netanyahu also thanked President Trump for his “stalwart defense of Israel.”
Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Marc-Andre Blanchard, on Canada decision to abstain from voting: “We are disappointed that this resolution is one-sided and does not advance prospects for peace to which we aspire which is why we have abstained on today’s vote.”
(With inputs from agencies)