Israel believes US will veto UN resolution on Jerusalem

An American tourist views Jerusalem's walled Old City and the Temple Mount area, known to Muslims as Haram el-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) with its distinctive golden Dome of the Rock, from the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, on Dec 18, 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - Israel said it believes its long-time ally the United States will veto a United Nations Security Council on Monday (Dec 18) that would call on US President Donald Trump to withdraw his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The one-page, Egyptian-drafted text expresses "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem", though it does not specifically mention the United States or Trump.

Diplomats say the resolution has broad support among the 15-member council, and while it is unlikely to be adopted, the vote would further isolate Trump on the issue.

"I believe the resolution will be vetoed," Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters ahead of the vote, which is due later on Monday.

"We call on all sides to come and negotiate, that is the only way to move forward. Not to come to the Security Council or to the General Assembly, it's a waste of time. The only way to move forward is by direct negotiations," Danon said.

The draft resolution "affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council".

The draft also calls upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

Trump abruptly reversed decades of US policy this month when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, generating outrage from Palestinians. Trump also plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Britain and France both said they would vote in favour of the resolution. "It is in line with previous Security Council resolutions," British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters.

Before the vote, UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov briefed the council on Monday on the implementation of a resolution adopted in December 2016 that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building. He said that "no such steps" had been taken by Israel.

While US Ambassador Nikki Haley did not say how Washington would vote, she said after Mladenov's briefing that the United States would not make the same mistake it made last year.

The resolution demanding an end to settlements was approved with 14 votes in favour and an abstention by former US president Barack Obama's administration, which defied heavy pressure from Israel and Trump, who was then president-elect, for Washington to wield its veto.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city's eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

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