US to the UN: Go ahead and try to tell us how to handle Jerusalem, ‘we don’t care’

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nikki haley
UN ambassador Nikki
Haley.

AP Photo/Mary
Altaffer


  • The UN General Assembly passed on Thursday a
    condemnation of President Donald Trump’s decision to move the
    US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
  • The resolution was nonbinding, and the UN has no
    authority to dictate US policy. Both major US political parties
    have intended to move the embassy to Jerusalem since
    1995.
  • Before the vote, the US ambassador to the UN sent
    letters to 180 countries telling them if they voted against the
    US, their funding might get cut. 
  • “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t
    care,” the US said of the vote.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly voted
overwhelmingly Thursday to denounce President Donald Trump’s
recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, largely ignoring
Trump’s threats to cut off aid to any country that went against
him.

The nonbinding resolution declaring U.S. action on Jerusalem
“null and void” was approved 128-9 — a victory for the
Palestinians, but not as big as they predicted. Amid Washington’s
threats, 35 of the 193 U.N. member nations abstained and 21 were
absent.

The resolution reaffirmed what has been the United Nations’ stand
on the divided holy city since 1967: that Jerusalem’s final
status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and
the Palestinians.

The Trump administration made it clear the vote would have no
effect on its plan to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to
Jerusalem. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
afterward that he completely rejects the “preposterous”
resolution.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour called the vote a victory
not only for the Palestinians but for the United Nations and
international law, saying U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley “failed
miserably” in persuading only seven countries aside from the U.S.
and Israel to vote against the resolution.

“And they used unprecedented tactics, unheard of in the
diplomatic work at the U.N., including blackmail and extortion,”
he said.

The United States and Israel had waged an intensive lobbying
campaign against the measure, with Haley sending letters to over
180 countries warning that Washington would be taking names of
those who voted against the U.S. Trump went further, threatening
a funding cutoff: “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We
don’t care.”

But in the end, major U.S. aid recipients including Afghanistan,
Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South
Africa supported the resolution. Egypt received roughly $1.4
billion in U.S. aid this year, and Jordan about $1.3 billion.

The nine countries voting “no” were the U.S., Israel, Guatemala,
Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, the Marshall Islands and
Togo. Among the abstentions were Australia, Argentina, Canada,
Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Mexico.

The absent countries included Kenya, which was the fifth-largest
recipient of U.S. aid last year, Georgia and Ukraine, all of
which have close U.S. ties.

After the vote, Haley tweeted a photo naming the 65 nations that
voted no, abstained or were absent, and said: “We appreciate
these countries for not falling to the irresponsible ways of the
UN.”

She later sent invitations to the 65 ambassadors inviting them to
a reception on Jan. 3 to thank them for their friendship with the
United States.

The U.S. is scheduled to dispense $25.8 billion in foreign aid
for 2018. Whether Trump follows through with his threat against
those who voted “yes” remains to be seen.

But within hours, the Trump administration appeared to be backing
away from its funding threats. In Washington, State Department
spokeswoman Heather Nauert said cuts to countries that opposed
the U.S. are not a foregone conclusion.

“The president’s foreign policy team has been empowered to
explore various options going forward with other nations,” Nauert
said. “However, no decisions have been made.”

During the debate, Arab, Islamic and non-aligned nations urged a
“yes” vote on the resolution, which was sponsored by Yemen and
Turkey.

Yemeni Ambassador Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany warned that
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem undermines any chance for peace
in the Mideast and “serves to fan the fires of violence and
extremism.”

He called Trump’s action “a blatant violation of the rights of
the Palestinian people and the Arab nations, and all Muslims and
Christians of the world,” and “a dangerous violation and breach
of international law.”

On Wednesday, Trump complained that Americans are tired of being
taken advantage of by countries that take billions of dollars and
then vote against the U.S. Haley echoed his words in her speech
to the packed assembly chamber, threatening not only member
states with funding cuts, but the United Nations itself.


Worshippers sit around before Friday prayers on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, as Palestinians call for a
Worshippers
sit around before Friday prayers on the compound known to Muslims
as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old
City, as Palestinians call for a “Day of Rage

Thomson Reuters

Haley said the vote will make no difference in U.S. plans to move
the American Embassy, but it “will make a difference on how
Americans look at the U.N., and on how we look at countries who
disrespect us in the U.N.”

“And this vote will be remembered,” she warned.

Trump’s pressure tactics had raised the stakes at Thursday’s
emergency meeting and triggered accusations from the Muslim world
of U.S. bullying and blackmail.

“It is unethical to think that the votes and dignity of member
states are for sale,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut
Cavusoglu. “We will not be intimidated! You can be strong but
this does not make you right!”

The Palestinians and their supporters sought the General Assembly
vote after the U.S. on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by
the 14 other U.N. Security Council members that would have
required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem.

The resolution adopted by the assembly has language similar to
the defeated measure.

It “affirms 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.”

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