Why does the UN Building resemble the Tower of Babel?
Despite President Donald Trump’s threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the vast majority of U.N. countries voted in favor of such a resolution on Thursday.
A total of 128 nations voted to support the resolution that condemned the U.S. for its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its decision to eventually move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Nine nations, including the United States and Israel, voted against the resolution; 35 nations abstained from voting, and 21 delegations were absent. (See vote by nation)
The Trump administration launched a massive lobbying campaign, which included letters sent from U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley to over 180 countries warning that the U.S. would be taking names of those who voted against Trump’s decision.
But when it came to the vote, major U.S. aid recipients including Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq ignored Trump’s threat and supported the resolution.
The nine countries voting “no” were the U.S., Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Togo. Among the notable abstentions were Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Mexico.
It is also noteworthy that 21 of the 193 U.N. member states were absent for the vote including Kenya, Georgia and Ukraine which have close U.S. ties.
Trump’s threat to cut off U.S. aid raised the stakes in Thursday’s U.N. vote and sparked criticism at his tactics, which one Muslim group called bullying or blackmail.
At the start of the emergency General Assembly meeting ahead of the vote, representatives of Arab, Islamic and non-aligned nations rejected his threat and urged a “yes” vote against the U.S. unilateral decision on Jerusalem.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who flew to New York for the meeting, called the U.S. action “an aggression on the status of Jerusalem” and said “those who want peace must vote for peace today.”
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that Americans are tired of being taken advantage of by countries that take hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars, and then vote against the United States. He said he will be watching Thursday’s vote: “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
Haley echoed his words in her speech to the packed assembly chamber, threatening not only the 193 U.N. member states with funding cuts, but the United Nations itself if the world body approves the resolution declaring Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem “null and void.”
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very right of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” she said.
The vote will make no difference on U.S. plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem, Haley said, but it “will make a difference on how Americans look at the U.N., and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the U.N., and this vote will be remembered.”
Yemen’s U.N. Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany, whose country chairs the Arab Group at the United Nations, introduced the resolution and urged all “peace-loving countries” to vote in favor of it.
He called Trump’s action “a blatant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nations, and all Muslims and Christians of the world,” and “a dangerous violation and breach of international law.”
It threatens peace in the world, undermines any chance for peace in the Mideast, “and only serves to fan the fires of violence and extremism,” Alyemany warned.
Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tweeted after Trump’s comments: “Our government should not use its leadership at the UN to bully/blackmail other nations that stand for religious liberty and justice in Jerusalem. Justice is a core value of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”
Israel’s prime minister says he completely rejects the “preposterous” U.N. resolution declaring the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “null and void.”
Benjamin Netanyahu says in a video posted to Facebook that Jerusalem “always was, always will be” Israel’s capital. He also says he appreciates that “a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theater of the absurd.”
Netanyahu is thanking President Donald Trump for his “stalwart defense of Israel.”
Trump’s declaration on Dec. 6 departed from decades of U.S. policy, and international consensus, that the fate of Jerusalem should be decided through negotiations.
Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel sees the city as its undivided capital.