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UN denounces US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the U.N. General Assembly, Thursday. ap photo

  • Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the U.N., speaks at the General Assembly, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters. President Donald Trump's threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has raised the stakes in Thursday's U.N. vote and sparked criticism of his tactics, with one Muslim group calling it bullying or blackmail. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) Mark Lennihan

  • Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, Turkey's foreign minister, speaks at the General Assembly, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters. President Donald Trump's threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has raised the stakes in Thursday's U.N. vote and sparked criticism of his tactics, with one Muslim group calling it bullying or blackmail. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) Mark Lennihan

  • Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks at the U.N. General Assembly, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters. President Donald Trump's threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has raised the stakes in Thursday's U.N. vote and sparked criticism of his tactics, with one Muslim group calling it bullying or blackmail. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) Mark Lennihan

  • Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour arrives at the General Assembly prior to a vote, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters. President Donald Trump's threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has raised the stakes in Thursday's U.N. vote and sparked criticism of his tactics, with one Muslim group calling it bullying or blackmail. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) Mark Lennihan

  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley returns to her seat after speaking to the U.N. General Assembly, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters. President Donald Trump's threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has raised the stakes in Thursday's U.N. vote and sparked criticism of his tactics, with one Muslim group calling it bullying or blackmail. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) Mark Lennihan

  • Mevlut Çavusoglu, right, Turkey's foreign minister, is seated with the country's delegation at the General Assembly, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters. President Donald Trump's threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has raised the stakes in Thursday's U.N. vote and sparked criticism of his tactics, with one Muslim group calling it bullying or blackmail. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) Mark Lennihan

  • In this Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 photo, the Security Council votes on a resolution concerning Jerusalem's status at United Nations headquarters. The United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other U.N. Security Council members that would have required President Donald Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a vote that showed the depth of global opposition to the U.S. move. (Kim Haughton/United Nations via AP) Eskinder Debebe



Associated Press
Thursday, December 21, 2017

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday to denounce President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, largely ignoring Trump’s threats to cut off aid to any country that went against him.

The nonbinding resolution declaring U.S. action on Jerusalem “null and void” was approved 128-9 — a victory for the Palestinians, but not as big as they predicted. Amid Washington’s threats, 35 of the 193 U.N. member nations abstained and 21 were absent.

The resolution reaffirmed what has been the United Nations’ stand on the divided holy city since 1967: that Jerusalem’s final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Trump administration made it clear the vote would have no effect on its plan to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said afterward that he completely rejects the “preposterous” resolution.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour called the vote a victory not only for the Palestinians but for the United Nations and international law, saying U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley “failed miserably” in persuading only seven countries aside from the U.S. and Israel to vote against the resolution.

“And they used unprecedented tactics, unheard of in the diplomatic work at the U.N., including blackmail and extortion,” he said.

The United States and Israel had waged an intensive lobbying campaign against the measure, with Haley sending letters to over 180 countries warning that Washington would be taking names of those who voted against the U.S. Trump went further, threatening a funding cutoff: “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

But in the end, major U.S. aid recipients including Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa supported the resolution. Egypt received roughly $1.4 billion in U.S. aid this year, and Jordan about $1.3 billion.

The nine countries voting “no” were the U.S., Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, the Marshall Islands and Togo. Among the abstentions were Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Mexico.

The absent countries included Kenya, which was the fifth-largest recipient of U.S. aid last year, Georgia and Ukraine, all of which have close U.S. ties.

The U.S. is scheduled to dispense $25.8 billion in foreign aid for 2018. Whether Trump follows through with his threat against those who voted “yes” remains to be seen.

After the vote, Haley tweeted a photo naming the 65 nations that voted no, abstained or were absent, and said: “We appreciate these countries for not falling to the irresponsible ways of the UN.”

But within hours, the Trump administration appeared to be backing away from its funding threats. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said cuts to countries that opposed the U.S. are not a foregone conclusion.

“The president’s foreign policy team has been empowered to explore various options going forward with other nations,” Nauert said. “However, no decisions have been made.”

During the debate, Arab, Islamic and non-aligned nations urged a “yes” vote on the resolution, which was sponsored by Yemen and Turkey.

Yemeni Ambassador Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany warned that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem undermines any chance for peace in the Mideast and “serves to fan the fires of violence and extremism.”