The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a measure rejecting the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Despite warnings of U.S. funding cuts, 128 countries voted in favor of the nonbinding resolution and only 9 voted against it. Another 35 countries including Canada abstained.
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out in this assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” said Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. “We will remember it when, once again, we are called up to make the world’s largest contribution to the U.N., and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”
Haley had said the U.S. Embassy would be moved to Jerusalem regardless of the vote.
“No vote in the United Nations is going to make any difference on that,” she said. “But this vote wil make a difference in how Americans look at the U.N. and how we look at countries that disrespect us at the U.N. And this vote will be remembered.”
Although the measure is nonbinding, it carries political resonance, particularly in the Middle East where the U.S. decision has sparked protests and been condemned by Arab governments. Underscoring the U.S. isolation on the issue, even many allies have publicly appealed to the administration to reverse its position and leave Jerusalem’s status undecided until Israelis and Palestinians negotiate terms.
Yesterday Donald Trump threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars of US aid from countries which vote in favour of a United Nations resolution rejecting the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
His comments came after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, wrote to about 180 of 193 member states warning that she will be “taking names” of countries that vote for a general assembly resolution on Thursday critical of the announcement which overturned decades of US foreign policy.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump amplified Haley’s threat.
“Let them vote against us,” he said.
“We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”
The warning appeared aimed largely at UN members in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are regarded as more vulnerable to US pressure.