US vetoes UN call for withdrawal of Trump Jerusalem decision

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attending a meeting of the Palestinian Leadership, at his presidency compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah, on Dec 18, 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - The United States was further isolated on Monday (Dec 18) over President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital when it blocked a United Nations Security Council call for the declaration to be withdrawn.

The remaining 14 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 Jerusalem".

"What we witnessed here in the Security Council is an insult. It won't be forgotten," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said after the vote. It was the first veto cast by the United States in the Security Council in more than six years, Haley said.

"We do it with no joy, but we do it with no reluctance," she said. "The fact that this veto is being done in defence of American sovereignty and in defence of America's role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council."

The UN draft resolution affirmed "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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council."

Trump abruptly reversed decades of US policy this month when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world and concern among Washington's western allies.

"In the wake of the decision of the United States... the situation has become more tense with an increase in incidents, notably rockets fired from Gaza and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces," UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council ahead of the vote.

Trump also plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The draft UN resolution had also called upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem. "The United States has a sovereign right to determine where and whether we establish an embassy," Haley said.

"I suspect very few member states would welcome Security Council pronouncements about their sovereign decisions."

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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