UN votes 128-9 in favour of resolution criticising Trump over Jerusalem recognition

US accused of ‘bullying’ prior to vote

 US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley:  “The United States will remember this day when it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly.” Photograph: EPA/Justin Lane

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley: “The United States will remember this day when it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly.” Photograph: EPA/Justin Lane

 

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a measure critical of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel despite US ambassador Nikki Haley’s warning that the move could put funding for their nations and the global body at risk.

The non-binding UN resolution passed on Thursday by a vote of 128-9, with 35 nations abstaining. Key US allies backing the measure over Trump’s threats included the UK, France, Italy, Japan and Germany. The US 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 UN 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 favour in the 15-member Security Council last week, prompting Haley to exercise the first US 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 December 6th announcement, which included a decision to begin moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The announcement prompted criticism across the Middle East and from key US 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 and Nevis – should be counted as backing the US position.

A US spokesman said the vote breakdown made clear that many countries gave their relationship with the US priority over an attempt to isolate the country over a decision the sovereign had made.

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”.

US 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 UN. “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 US.”

Palestinian officials said Trump’s Jerusalem decision disqualified the US from being a mediator in any Israel-Palestinian negotiations. – Bloomberg