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US vetoes UN vote for withdrawal of Trump Jerusalem decision

December 18, 2017

The US has vetoed a Security Council resolution on Jerusalem calling on all states to not establish embassies in the city. The measure expressed "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem."

Israel Jerusalem Panorama
Image: Reuters/R. Zvulun

The United States vetoed  a draft resolution at the UN Security Council to reaffirm Jerusalem's status as unresolved on Monday, following US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize the city as Israel's capital.

The remaining 14 council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution.

The draft needed nine backing votes from the Council's 14 members to pass, including no vetoes from the permanent members: the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China.

"What we witnessed here today in the Security Council is an insult. It won't be forgotten," said US Ambassador Nikki Haley, describing the measure as "one more example of the United Nations doing more harm than good in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Haley said it was the first veto cast by the United States in the Security Council in more than six years.

"We do it with no joy, but we do it with no reluctance," she said. "The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense 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."

While the draft resolution did not directly mention Trump or the United States, it expressed "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem."

Read more: UN to vote on resolution rejecting US Jerusalem decision

The drafted resolution, put forward by Egypt, said 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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded."

Palestine to seek UN General Assembly support

It had been expected that the United States would veto the vote. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Palestine would seek support for the measure at the General Assembly if the Haley exercised Washington's veto.

Malki said in a statement that while Haley considered "the veto a source of pride and strength, we will show her their position is isolated and rejected internationally."

The five permanent members of the Security Council have veto power, but there are no vetoes at the General Assembly.

Read more: Two reasons behind Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Arab News quoted Ambassador Riyad Mansour as saying that the Palestinians and Egyptians had worked closely with Security Council members while drafting the resolution to ensure that it would get overwhelming support.

The Palestinians had the option of invoking a rarely used article of the UN Charter that calls for parties to a dispute not to cast a veto, Arab News reported. But, it said, they were more likely to take the issue to the General Assembly under Resolution 377A, known as the "Uniting for Peace" resolution.

Resolution 377A was passed in 1950 and used to authorize the deployment of US troops to fight in the Korean War.

Mansour said Palestinians resorted to the "Uniting for Peace" resolution in the 1990s after Israel began building a settlement on Jabal Abut Ghnaim, a hilltop on occupied West Bank land south of Jerusalem, but left that session in suspension. However, they could seek a resumption of the session, he said.

"If the resolution is vetoed, the Palestinian delegation can send a letter to the UN Secretary-General and ask him to resume the emergency session," he said, according to Arab News.

Read more: Jerusalem: Three things to know

The UN General Assembly is expected to hold a plenary session on Tuesday, including a discussion on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Protests worldwide

Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, as well as move the US Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, sparked widespread anger and protests among Palestinians and Muslim communities worldwide.

On Sunday, more than 80,000 Indonesians took to the streets of the country's capital Jakarta to protest against the decision.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its indivisible capital. The Palestinians view the east as the capital of a future state.

Israel has long accused the United Nations of bias against it in its conflict with the Palestinians and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump's move again on Sunday.

US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Jerusalem on Wednesday. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has scrapped a meeting with Pence in protest at the Jerusalem announcement, and will instead head to Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

law/tj (AFP, Reuters)