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  • Rory O'Keeffe

UN rejects US' declaration of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

The United Nations has voted – overwhelmingly – to reject the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel.

Of the 193 member-states, 21 did not attend the session, 128 states to approve the rejection of the US’ decision and declaration that no members should recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, 35 nations abstained, and just nine voted against the Resolution.

The nine who voted against were Israel, the US; Guatemala and Honduras (both of whose governments are being propped up by the US after disputes in which Socialists appeared to have won elections, but were prevented from forming governments), the Marshall Islands; Micronesia; Nauru; Palau; and Togo.

The 35 abstainers included the US’ nearest neighbours Mexico and Canada, as well as Poland, which is in the grips of a far-Right government.

But every permanent member of the UN Security Council – barring the US itself of course – voted in favour of the Resolution, including the UK which has systematically abstained on all votes related to the US and Israel (excluding last week’s Security Council Resolution, for which it voted in favour), and China which generally abstains on all General Assembly votes which it does not consider directly affects it.

It is not clear whether the US will follow through on Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw aid from all 128 countries who voted in favour of the Resolution, and it should be noted that the Resolution is not binding.

However, the vote was a clear statement of intent and position by the UN regarding Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem, the US’ decision to treat the occupation as if it is something peripheral, and the UN’s desire to stand for and protect international law.

It was also, to revisit yesterday’s note on this, a moment where the UN performed exactly as it had to to safeguard its own integrity, as well as to protect international politics and democracy.

US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, took the opportunity to once again undermine the very concept of the UN. She wrongly began: ‘The United States will remember this day, on which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.’

Of course, it was not attacked for anything of the sort. The UN simply exercised its right to attempt to uphold international law which Israel has been breaking since 1967, and the US is now also breaking, and to continue efforts to promote peace between Israel and Palestinians, which depends on Jerusalem being recognised as capital of a Palestinian state.

To re-heat a comparison we used on this issue previously, Haley’s statement is similar to a person who has been arrested for setting fire to a monastery, is being ‘victimised’ for exercising its ‘right’ to set fire to buildings full of monks.

She continued: ‘America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do. And it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.’

If this speech was made in anger, it is an indication that Haley, like much of the rest of the administration she serves, is insufficiently composed to conduct international diplomacy.

If it was not, it is a direct strike by the world’s most powerful state at international law, and at the United Nations.

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