United Nations rejects Trump push for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Jerusalem
Self-proclaimed capital for Israel and Palestine - Jerusalem - Photo by Berthold Werner via Wikimedia commons

Over 120 countries have openly defied United States President Donald Trump’s motion to recognise the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This UN resolution follows threats by Trump to withdraw US aid from countries that voted in favour of it.

Despite the threats by Trump, 128 countries supported the resolution, with 35 abstaining and 9 voting against it. Trump’s threat appears to have had some kind of impact with multiple countries like Australia abstaining from the vote. This combined with the number of countries who rejected the resolution showed more division than usually seen in issues surrounding Palestine.

Australia’s refusal to vote on the issue could affect relations between them and the United States following Trump’s plea for further cooperation against China.

Despite the shakeup of the UN, the United States ended up very much isolated in front of its Western and Arab allies who voted for the resolution in large numbers. Key US allies like Jordan, Egypt and Iraq voted for the resolution despite being large recipients of military or economic support from the US.

A somewhat unexpected coalition containing Honduras, Marshall Island, Guatemala, Nauru, Togo and Micronesia sided with the Israel and the United States in voting against the resolution.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas referred to the outcome as a “victory for Palestine”. Unsurprisingly the vote was referred to as “preposterous” by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu said that despite the outcome “Jerusalem would always be our capital”.

The United States has claimed it was “singled out” for a joint attack by the United Nations. The main reason for the success of the resolution against Trump was the Jerusalem is a holy site for multiple religions and recognising it as the capital of Israel would make it a de facto Jewish city.

Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the UN said that “The United States will remember this day”, going on to mention that this action will influence how the US gives further contributions to the UN. Haley appeared to imply a sense of weariness from the United States for supporting a huge range of nations that would not support the US in turn.

The fate of Jerusalem is one of the key factors that have prevented peace between Palestine and Israel. Trump’s aggressive move to hand Jerusalem fully to Israel was a source of frustration to all those who have sought a peace deal.

The United Nations has never recognised Israel as having full control over the city of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in 1967 and it has since become a contentious issue. Palestinians seek Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they wish to establish.