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Defying Trump at UN? 120 countries condemn Jerusalem move despite warning

A total of 128 countries backed the resolution, which is non-binding, nine voted against and 35 abstained. Twenty-one countries did not cast a vote

Reuters  |  New York 

Donald Trump

More than 120 countries defied on Thursday and voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recent recognition of as Israel’s capital. Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favour. A total of 128 countries backed the resolution, which is non-binding, nine voted against and 35 abstained. Twenty-one countries did not cast a vote. Trump’s threat appeared to have some impact, with more countries abstaining and rejecting the resolution than usually associated with Palestinian-related resolutions. Nevertheless, found itself isolated as many of its Western and Arab allies voted for the measure. Some of those allies, like Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq, are major recipients of or economic aid, although the US threat to cut aid did not single out any country. A spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas called the vote “a victory for Palestine” but Israeli Prime Minister rejected the vote. Earlier this month, Trump reversed decades of US policy by announcing the United States recognised -- home to major Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites -- as the capital of and would move its embassy there. “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for an attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told the 193-member General Assembly ahead of Thursday’s vote. “We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations, and so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit,” she said The status of is one of the thorniest obstacles to a peace deal between and the Palestinians, who were furious over Trump’s move.

The community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the full city. Netanyahu described the resolution as “preposterous”. “is our capital, always was, always will be. But I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theatre of the absurd,” he said a video on his Facebook page. captured East in a 1967 war and want it as the capital of a future state they seek. ABSTENTIONS Among the countries that abstained on Thursday were Australia, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda and Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Nauru and Togo joined the United States and in voting no. Australian U. N. Ambassador Gillian Bird said Australia wanted to see the United States continue to play a leadership role in brokering peace and abstained from the vote because, “We do not wish to see any party isolated from the process.” According to figures from the US government’s aid agency USAID, in 2016 the United States provided some $13 billion in economic and military assistance to countries in sub-Saharan Africa and $1.6 billion to states in and Oceania. It provided some $13 billion to countries in the Middle East and North Africa, $6.7 billion to countries in South and Central Asia, $1.5 billion to states in Europe and Eurasia and $2.2 billion to Western Hemisphere countries, according to USAID. The General Assembly vote was called at the request of Arab and Muslim countries after the United States vetoed the same resolution on Monday in the 15-member The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favour of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of The resolution adopted on Thursday “affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.” French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said in a statement: “The resolution adopted today only confirms relevant law provisions on voted for the resolution. The UN action comes a year after the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements. That resolution was approved with 14 votes in favour and an abstention by former Barack Obama’s administration, which defied heavy pressure from longtime ally and Trump, who was then president-elect, for to wield its veto. After Thursday’s vote, a spokesperson for the to the said: “It’s clear that many countries prioritised their relationship with the United States over an unproductive attempt to isolate us for a decision that was our sovereign right to make.”

First Published: Fri, December 22 2017. 08:29 IST
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