Trump threatens to cut aid over UN Jerusalem vote

UNITED NATIONS –  President Donald Trump threatened on Wednesday to cut funding to countries that vote against the United States on a motion at the United Nations condemning Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency session Thursday (today) to vote on a draft resolution that the United States vetoed at the Security Council after all other 14 countries backed the measure. “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump said at the White House. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Pakistan told the OIC Ambassadorial Group at the United Nations that it will fully support and co-sponsor a resolution calling for the withdrawal of US decision to recognise the holy city as Israel’s capital.

The draft resolution mirrors the vetoed measure, reaffirming that any decision on the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect and must be rescinded. It does not mention Trump’s decision but expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”

Diplomats expect strong support for the resolution, which is non-binding, despite the US pressure to either abstain or vote against it.

A council diplomat said Canada, Hungary and the Czech Republic might bow to US pressure and not support the draft resolution.

On Tuesday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley sent an email to fellow UN envoys to put them on notice that “the president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us.”

“We will take note of each and every vote on this issue,” she wrote in the message seen by AFP. On Twitter, Haley posted that “the US will be taking names” when the ambassadors of the 193-nation assembly cast their vote on Thursday. “Nikki, that was the right message,” Trump said.

Trump’s December 6 decision to recognise Jerusalem broke with international consensus, triggering protests across the Muslim world and drawing strong condemnation.

Key US allies Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Ukraine were among the 14 countries in the 15-member council that voted in favour of the measure and were expected to do the same on Thursday at the assembly.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki accused Washington of “threatening” member-states, saying it was “another mistake” following the US veto at the Security Council. Malki said the UN session would show “how many countries will opt to vote with their conscience.”

Turkey and Yemen requested the urgent meeting on behalf of the Arab group of countries and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The two countries circulated a draft resolution on Tuesday that mirrors the vetoed measure, reaffirming that Jerusalem is an “issue that must be resolved through negotiations.”

“They will vote for justice and they will vote in favour of that resolution that was presented by both Yemen and Turkey on behalf of the Arab group and OIC,” Malki said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to lead Islamic condemnation of Trump’s Jerusalem plan, calling a summit of the leaders of Muslim nations last week in Istanbul, who urged the world to recognise East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after the 1967 war, in a move never recognised by the international community.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country expected “strong support” for the Palestinian Authority in the UN General Assembly. “Everyone with a conscience … is against this decision that usurped Palestine’s rights,” he said.

The foreign minister said any honourable country would not bow to US pressure, urging Washington to reverse its mistake. “God willing, I believe we will obtain a good result,” he added.

On Tuesday, Pakistan told the OIC Ambassadorial Group at the United Nations, that it will fully support and co-sponsor the resolution. “Our support to the Palestinian cause and to the defence of al-Quds al Sharif is and has always been a core principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said in a speech to the 57-member group’s coordination meeting held to strategise its position for the 193-member Assembly’s special session. “Our support remains unwavering,” she added.

recalled that the first-ever stand alone General Assembly resolution on Jerusalem, GA Resolution 2253, adopted on 4th July 1967 at an Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, was led and sponsored by Pakistan.

“The US veto (on Monday) was doubling down on an already dangerously misplaced strategy, in perhaps the most sensitive geopolitical hotspot in the world,” the Pakistani envoy said.

“While the initial decision (US recognition of Israel) itself was dangerous, the veto attempted to legitimise a declaration that is already null and void, and lacks any legality,” the Pakistani envoy said, adding the international community will not be complicit in an illegal act.

“This move undermines the international legal system and does not enable the Middle East to move in the direction of any revival of the peace process settlement,” the ambassador said. “In fact,” she said, “it further destabilises an already volatile and violent situation in the region.” “Not only does it diminish the prospects of peace, but it will further embolden the occupying power into defiance,” the envoy said. “It is, therefore, important for all of us in the global community to speak up in order to raise the political cost for the US for taking a wrong decision.”

 

 

AFP/APP

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