Turkish president: UN anti-Israel vote will ‘teach US a lesson’

Angry over US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the nations of the world would defy the US in a UN vote on the issue.

By: Batya Jerenberg

The UN General Assembly is voting Thursday on whether the US should rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following the failure of the resolution on this subject in the Security Council. Although the other 14 members of the Council voted in favor, the binding measure did not pass due to America’s veto.

Turkey, which has taken the lead on this issue since President Donald Trump made his announcement, pushed for an emergency session of the world body instead, which it easily secured. The draft resolution “reaffirms” that Jerusalem is an issue that must be resolved through negotiations and that any decision on its status has no legal effect and must be rescinded.

With an automatic anti-Israel majority in the UN, this nonbinding measure was almost guaranteed to pass, but not without some push-back. Israel’s diplomatic wheels quietly turned before the vote to achieve a moral victory by having as many democracies as possible either vote against the measure, abstain, or be absent.

President Trump, for his part, lashed out at opposition in the UN. “For all of these nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council or they vote against us, potentially, at the Assembly…. Well, we’re watching those votes,” he warned on Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting. “We’ll save a lot.”

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Although Turkey is ostensibly an ally of America, enjoying membership in NATO, Erdogan sneered at the implied threat to foreign aid, although according to government data his country received over $154 million in aid money last year, the vast majority of which was earmarked to help assist Syrian refugees who have poured into Turkey since the Syrian civil war began.

“I am calling on the whole world: never sell your democratic will in return for petty dollars,” he said in a televised speech in Ankara, adding that he believes America will be taught a lesson at the vote.

The lesson, as he called it, may very well be lost on the White House, which is not enamored of the current workings of the international institution, especially when it comes to Israel. Nikki Haley, Trump’s emissary at the UN, wrote a letter to her colleagues in which she indicated that this vote could encourage more violence in the region.

While noting Israel’s historic connection to Jerusalem, Haley asked other nations “out of recognition of our historic friendship, collaboration and generous support that we have given you, to respect our decision where to put our embassy.”