President Trump received backlash from nearly every country but Israel when he decided earlier this month to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
On Monday, the United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution that would have forced Trump to reverse his decision about Jerusalem. The vote was 14-1, with the United States using its veto power for the first time in more than six years.
All other 14 members of the council – including China, Russia, France, and Britain – agreed that Trump’s decision threatens future peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
“The status of Jerusalem should be determined through a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states,” said British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.
The resolution amounted to an accusation that the US was “setting back the prospects of peace,” argued US ambassador Nikki Haley. “That is a scandalous charge,” she added, calling the resolution an “insult” that “won’t be forgotten.”
The Israelis praised Haley’s remarks, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared her to the “Maccabbees” – ancient warriors who seized control of Judea and reasserted the Jewish religion.
Trump’s policy shift has sparked protests and earned condemnation from world leaders.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip, who earlier vowed to cut off all ties with Israel should the US move its embassy to Jerusalem, is now promising to establish a Turkish embassy for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Last week, representatives from nearly 60 Muslim-majority nations gathered in Turkey to criticize Trump’s decision and demand that East Jerusalem be immediately recognized as the capital of Palestine.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he no longer considers the Trump Administration an impartial mediator in Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy and has dispatched representatives to Russia and China to ask them to take a greater role in peace negotiations with Israel.
The status of Jerusalem is at the very heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has long claimed the city as its capital, but Palestine and much of the worldwide community view the eastern half of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
White House officials insist that Trump’s policy change will have no impact on the boundaries of the future boundaries of Palestine, and Trump has suggested he is willing to accept a two-state solution if an agreement can be reached.
The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency session on Thursday at the request of Turkey and Yemen. Members will vote on a measure that calls Trump’s decision about Jerusalem “null and void” and demands that countries avoid decisions that could alter “the character, status, or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem.”
Haley has warned that the US will be paying close to attention to the votes on Thursday. “When we make a decision…about where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us,” tweeted Haley. “On Thursday there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”
There are no vetoes within the general assembly. A vote in favor of the resolution, however, would serve only as a recommendation and would not be legally binding.