UN vote

The United Nations General Assembly voted 128 to 9 on Thursday to denounce the U.S. President’s December 6th claim that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, despite explicit US threats against those nations by both Donald Trump and the US Ambassador to the United Nations.

The US vowed to cut aid to any nation that voted in favor of the resolution, which is likely what led to the 9 votes against and the 35 abstentions to the resolution. But how the US would be able to cut aid to nations like Jordan and Egypt, which are allies with the US in its Mid-east policy.

The French ambassador to the United Nations, François Delattre, noted the impact of the U.S. claim about Jerusalem, and its impact on the Israel-Palestine peace process, saying, “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 United States, as everyone is aware of its particular role and influence on this issue.”

The Israeli daily Ha’aretz criticized the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Ayalon, for his speech in advance of the vote, in which he called any nation that voted in favor of the resolution a ‘puppet’ to the Palestinian Authority. Critics noted that it is unclear how these nations could be puppets of an Authority that has no vote in the United Nations, and very little political or economic power, as well as lacking sovereignty as a nation.

Haaretz noted that, while Ayalon spent the bulk of his speech criticizing other nations, “What he didn’t do was address the text of the resolution that was before the General Assembly, or even make the case for how Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem advanced the cause of peace. Danon’s speech wasn’t full of inaccuracies, but it did contain a number of misleading statements.”

On December 6th, US President Donald Trump made a unilateral declaration that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel , contradicting decades of US policy, flagrantly violating international law and signed peace agreements, and discarding the Palestinian people’s basic rights.

In making that declaration, the U.S. government joined Israel as the only two countries in the world to claim that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. In 1947, when the United Nations recommended a partition plan for Palestine in order to create a Jewish state on what had been Palestinian land, the city of Jerusalem was recommended to remain an international city in which all would be welcome.

Following the declaration, the Israeli government has moved ahead full force with policies of displacement of Palestinian residents who have lived there hundreds, and, in some cases, thousands of years.

The move has enflamed the tensions between the U.S. and the Muslim world, especially as it came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow the travel ban to the U.S. that most legal experts say discriminates blatantly against Muslims.

Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights summarized the enormity of this decision, saying, “U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would be a major shift in American policy and have significant implications for U.S. policy for Middle East Peace. For decades, the United States has held that this issue is one that must be mutually agreed upon by the parties, so recognizing Israel’s claims here and now ahead of an agreement is a marked shift from even the pretense of a balanced position on Jerusalem to a full backing of the Israeli position.”

Palestinians living in Jerusalem already live under martial law by the Israeli military, and face significant discrimination, underfunding of schools and services, denial of civil law and due process, and loss of land, homes and communities. Palestinians fear that this move by the U.S. administration will embolden the Israeli government and militia movement to expand their program of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the city of Jerusalem.

In response to the UN vote on Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister Riyad al-Maliki said this meeting came to raise the voice of the International Community, the people around the world who took off to the streets to protest the illegal U.S stance regarding occupied Jerusalem. He added that this overwhelming majority that voted for this resolution at the Security Council have voted against all illegal attempts to change the legal status of Jerusalem.

Al-Maliki thanked the Arab counties, member countries of the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation”, and the “The Non-Aligned Movement” states, for calling for this urgent session after the United States used its Veto power when Fourteen of the fifteen nations in the United Nations Security Council voted Monday reaffirming the status of the city of Jerusalem as unresolved, and challenging the U.S. administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

He added that this session came following the decision of the Cairo meeting of the Council of Arab Ministries, which was convened following a call from Palestine and Jordan, and also the special Islamic Summit which was held in Istanbul. Al-Maliki added that this meeting was not held because of “animosity towards the United States,” but to challenge its illegal decision which robs the Palestinians from their legal and historic right in occupied Jerusalem, and added that the American decision also violates the rights of the entire Arab Nation, in addition to millions of Muslims and Christians around the world.

“There can be no peace initiative that can bring real peace and stability without Jerusalem,” he added, “The United States’ decision only serves the extremist elements in the Israeli government, and instead of threatening the status of the holy city, it threatens the US credibility and status as a mediator in peace talks.”

He also stated that the U.S decision, inspired by the extremity government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, threatens the entire region of an endless religious war, which every country around the world should work to avoid. “The United States need to look at its current position now, even some of its closest allies did not support its decision,” al-Maliki stated, “We have seen the reactions around the world, and we have seen the results of the vote.”