The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution rejecting any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Dec. 21 vote was 128 in favour and nine against, with Canada and 34 other countries abstaining.
The vote came after a similar resolution was considered by the UN Security Council, but vetoed by the United States. The council’s 14 other members voted in favour.
The General Assembly resolution, drafted by Yemen and Turkey, “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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard, calls upon all states to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.”
The resolution also noted that “Jerusalem is a final-status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.”
The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, called the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “an aggression towards the Palestinian people” and added that it affects “the status of the United States as a mediator of peace.”
“History records names, it remembers names, the names of those who stand by what is right and stand up to peace, and it remembers those who speak falsehoods,” Mansour said in a reference to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley saying earlier in the week that she would “take names” of the countries that vote for the resolution.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Çavuşoglu, called U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to withhold development money from countries that vote for the resolution “bullying.”
“We will not be intimidated. You can be strong, but that does not make you right,” he said.
Meanwhile, Haley said that a vote for the resolution would show “disrespect” to the United States by other UN countries.
“When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have expectation that we will be respected. What’s more, we are being asked to pay for the dubious privileges of being disrespected,” Haley said. “If our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our investment in other ways,” she added. “This vote will be remembered.”
“To its shame, the United Nations has been a place that is hostile to Israel,” Haley went on. “Israel has chosen to remain in this institution because it is important to stand up for yourself.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, called the meeting “shameful.” He said the United States “simply stated a fact” when it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He added, “Jerusalem is the holiest place on Earth for the Jewish People. This is a fact that simply cannot be refuted. King David declared Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish People 3,000 years ago.”
Danon produced a coin dating to 67 CE reading, “Freedom of Zion,” which he said provides clear evidence of the Second Temple and “proves the ancient connection of Jews to Jerusalem.”
“Those who support today’s resolution are like puppets. You are like puppets pulled by your Palestinian masters,” Danon said.
Prior to the start of the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Today is a very important day in Israel, and very important outside of Israel. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, whether or not the UN recognizes it. It took 70 years until the United States officially recognized this and it will take years for the United Nations to recognize that as well.
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, whether or not the UN recognizes it.
– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu added, “The attitude toward Israel from many countries on all continents is changing outside the UN and will eventually seep into the walls of the UN house – the House of Lies. The State of Israel rejects this vote out of hand even before it was accepted. Jerusalem is our capital. We will continue to build there, and embassies of countries, headed by the United States, will move to Jerusalem.”
In the hours that preceded the vote, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) launched a campaign asking the community to sign a petition to “help prevent Canada from joining in the ‘pile on’ by calling on our government to vote against the UNGA resolution on Jerusalem.”
Following the vote, CIJA chair David J. Cape said the vote is “the latest effort by Israel’s detractors and enemies to use the UN to demonize the only democracy in the Middle East. As Canada noted in its explanation of vote, this resolution does nothing to advance prospects for the peace that Israelis have, time and again, sought with their neighbours.
“We note with appreciation that Canada acknowledged the link between the Jewish People and Jerusalem and correctly described the resolution as one-sided and unhelpful. That said, we would have preferred for Canada to have voted ‘no’ in order to send a clear message that it rejects continued efforts to use the UN as a platform to attack, delegitimize, vilify and isolate Israel.”