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US vetoes UN resolution on occupied Jerusalem

Security Council measure calling for withdrawal of declaration supported by all 14 other members

Image Credit: AFP
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listens during a Security Council meeting concerning the situation in the Middle East.

The United States was further isolated on Monday over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when it blocked a United Nations Security Council call for the declaration to be withdrawn.

The remaining 14 council members voted in favour of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of [occupied] Jerusalem.”

“What we witnessed here in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said after the vote, adding that it was the first veto cast by the United States in more than six years.

“The fact that this veto is being done in defence of American sovereignty and in defence of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council,” Haley said.

The UN draft resolution affirmed “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

Trump abruptly reversed decades of US policy in December when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world and concern among Washington’s western allies.

“In the wake of the decision of the United States ... the situation has become more tense with an increase in incidents, notably rockets fired from Gaza and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces,” UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council ahead of the vote.

Emergency general assembly session

Trump also plans to move the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The draft UN resolution had called upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Haley and Trump for the veto in a video clip posted on his Facebook page.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

Following the US veto, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Arab states, which had agreed earlier in December to seek a Security Council resolution, would meet to evaluate the situation to determine what their next steps might be.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki said the Palestinians would seek a rare emergency special session of the 193-member UN General Assembly on Trump’s decision.

Under a 1950 resolution, an emergency special session can be called for the General Assembly to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures” if the Security Council fails to act.

Only 10 such sessions have been convened, and the last time the General Assembly met in such a session was in 2009 on Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian territories. Any outcome of such a session is non-binding, but carries political weight.

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