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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution rejecting U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as the U.N. envoy warned the vote will determine how the U.S. looks “at countries who disrespect us at the U.N.”
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit,” U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said.
She spoke before the resolution was approved, with 128 yes votes, nine no votes and 35 abstentions,
U.S. President Donald Trump broke with longstanding U.S. policy earlier this month by saying the United States considers Jerusalem the Israeli capital and starting the process of moving the U.S. embassy there.
That announcement was met with a move in the U.N. Security Council on Monday to adopt a resolution noting its “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.” Fourteen of the council’s 15 members voted in favor of the draft resolution, but the United States used its veto power to block its adoption.
Trump and his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, issued warnings ahead of Thursday’s General Assembly vote.
“They take hundreds of millions of dollars, and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
Haley said after Monday’s Security Council vote, “The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy.” She warned other countries in a letter seen by VOA using language similar to Trump’s
At the U.N., several diplomats said they had received Haley’s letter, but did not plan to change their stance.
“Our position on this case has been very clear, we have had the opportunity to express ourselves in the Security Council, so that is our very strongly principled position,” said Sweden’s U.N. ambassador, Olof Skoog. “For us this is not at all about our bilateral relations with the United States, which is very good.”
Thursday’s emergency General Assembly session was requested by Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour, with the backing of Arab and non-aligned countries. Mansour said he hopes the measure receives “overwhelming support.”
General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, but still carry moral weight, demonstrating the majority opinion of the international community.
The resolution being considered Thursday is very similar to the one the United States vetoed earlier this week.
It says “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.”
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its eternal capital, while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and say the United States is no longer a reliable partner in the peace process.
The Trump administration says it is committed to a two-state solution in the Middle East if that is what the parties want, and that the physical location of its embassy should have no bearing on the talks.