“America has taken matters to a new level. They refuse to allow the UN to gang up on either US or Israeli interests,” says a Middle East analyst regarding Haley’s warning that the US will be watching to see who votes against Trump on Jerusalem.
By Steve Leibowitz
The United States has launched a campaign in the UN General Assembly warning that it will be “taking names” of countries that support Thursday’s draft resolution rejecting President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Egyptian draft is identical to the failed Security Council resolution that was defeated by a US veto after council members voted 14-1 in favor of the resolution, declaring that any decision on the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect and must be rescinded. The resolution does not mention Trump or the United States directly, but a tweet by US United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley made it clear that she views votes in favor of the motion as a direct assault on US sovereignty.
Middle East analyst Amotz Asa-El told World Israel News (WIN), “I can’t predict the outcome of the vote and certainly the resolution will still pass, but countries will think twice before voting against the US. I do think that some countries in central Europe, like the Czech Republic and Poland, will vote against or abstain. Also, some African nations will want to avoid being on Nicki Haley’s list by provoking America. This is a major change in tone. America has taken matters to a new level. They refuse to allow the UN to gang up on either US or Israeli interests. It’s a slap in the face.”
Dan Diker, a Middle East expert at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs told WIN, “The US is saying that they have the right to demand that countries who take aid from the United States should not then be criticizing US policy. The US is refusing to be snubbed, slighted or undermined. They are swinging their big stick and have every right to do so.”
‘Washington used to look the other way’
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon told WIN, “Haley’s comments are a breath of fresh air. It was courageous on her part and makes sense. There is a lot of corruption in the UN and an automatic majority for anything proposed by the Arabs. Washington is now telling countries that they cannot get critical aide from the US and then attack US policy. Washington used to look the other way, but enough is enough. With this new stance they will have to think twice. This could work, especially since many countries understand that the Palestinian issue is not crucial to their interests and they no longer believe that voting with the US on the issue is likely to bring about an avalanche of terror or other repercussions directed at them.”
Turkey and Yemen requested the urgent meeting of the 193-nation General Assembly on behalf of the Arab group of countries and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) after the US vetoed the measure in the Security Council. The two countries circulated a draft resolution that mirrors the vetoed measure, reaffirming that any decision on the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect and must be rescinded.
Egypt had put forward the draft, which was backed by all 14 Security Council members other than the US in a vote on Monday. Like the Egyptian draft, the text before the assembly does not explicitly mention Trump’s decision, but expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”
Israel hailed the December 6 address by Trump in which he described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of the Israeli government as a move based on reality. Trump insisted that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city. Nevertheless, the announcement prompted the Palestinian Authority to cut ties with US envoys to the peace process, and the PA immediately launched a worldwide campaign to condemn Trump’s announcement.
PA expects ‘overwhelming support’
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said that the PA expects “overwhelming support” in the General Assembly vote where, unlike in the Security Council, no country has veto power.
It’s unclear who Ambassador Haley can persuade to vote “no.” US allies such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan and the Ukraine are all members of the Security Council who voted in favor of the resolution. Haley promptly vetoed the motion but still described that 14-1 vote as “insulting” and declared that “it won’t be forgotten.”
Israel is also lobbying for “no” votes with embassies around the world instructed to encourage their host countries to oppose the resolution. The Israeli diplomats argue that the non-binding resolution is one-sided, harms peace prospects and will encourage further violence in the region.
Generally, anti-Israel votes in the UN General Assembly are overwhelmingly against Israel. For example, in 2012, the UN General Assembly voted by 138-9, with 41 abstentions, to upgrade “Palestine” to the status of non-member state.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is leading the campaign in favor of the resolution that was submitted by Egypt. He is also calling for the international community to respond by recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.