UN vote condemns as ‘null and void’ US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Predictably, the UN approved a nonbinding resolution condemning the US for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

By: World Israel News Staff, with files from AP

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted Thursday in favor of a nonbinding resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resolution also represents a rejection of the US’ intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, a policy that has been sanctioned by US law for over two decades.

The UNGA voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions to declare as “null and void” the recent declaration by President Trump that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

While the Palestinians view the vote as a victory, the final tally fell short of the 150 votes that supporters of the resolution had hoped for. A total of 21 countries were absent, which could be viewed as a victory for the United States and an indication that Trump’s threat to slash US aid to opponents of his declaration did in fact affect US allies’ decision-making.

The UN resolution declares that any decision to change Jerusalem’s status is “null and void,” has no legal effect, and must be rescinded. In addition, the resolution calls on member countries to abstain from setting up Jerusalem-based diplomatic missions.

After the US announcement regarding Jerusalem, the Czech Republic and Guatemala announced that they also intend to move their embassies to Jerusalem. Russia had previously passed a law sanctioning the establishment of their embassy in “west Jerusalem.”

Before the vote, Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister for Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki addressed the UNGA, denouncing the US and Israel. According to al-Maliki, the US decision represents “an aggression on the natural rights of the Palestinian people…and all Arabs and Muslims of the world.” In his address, al-Maliki made repeated references to Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, without ever acknowledging the ancient Jewish ties to the holy city.

Al-Maliki relied on traditional tropes of the Palestinian narrative, using buzzwords such as “colonialism,” “imperialism,” “occupation” and “apartheid.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, also addressed the UNGA before the vote, referring to the vote as a “performance of delusion,” a “fraud,” and a “distraction” to facilitate the Palestinians’ continued “reject[ion of] peace.” Danon also accused nations supporting the vote as participants in a “puppet show,” with the Palestinians serving as their  “puppet master.”

Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the UN as a “house of lies.”

Haley: ‘The US will remember this day’

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley also addressed the emergency meeting of the assembly, announcing that “no vote in the United Nations will make any difference” on the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which will go ahead because “it is the right thing to do.”

Haley continued, “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very right of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.”

“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” she vowed. “And we will remember 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.”

Haley remarked that Thursday’s vote “will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN, and this vote will be remembered.”