Israel’s envoy to the United Nations vowed Thursday that his country would never be “driven” from Jerusalem as UN member states prepared to vote on rejecting Washington’s recognition of the Holy City as its capital.
A draft resolution rejecting the US move was sent to the General Assembly after it was vetoed by the United States at the Security Council on Monday, although all other 14 council members voted in favor.
The vote on a motion rejecting US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is taking place after President Donald Trump threatened to cut funding to countries that back the measure.
Gathered in an emergency session, the General Assembly is to decide on a draft resolution reaffirming that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations, and that any decision reached outside of that framework has no legal effect and must be rescinded.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki, addressing the assembly appealed for support and referenced America’s warning that it was “taking names” among countries that oppose it at the UN.
“This organisation is now undergoing an unprecedented test,” al-Malki said.
“History records names, it remembers names — the names of those who stand by what is right and the names of those who speak falsehood. Today we are seekers of rights and peace.”
Trump’s decision on December 6 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke with international consensus and unleashed protests across the Muslim world, prompting a flurry of appeals to the United Nations.
The status of the Holy City is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming it as their capital.
Trump warned that Washington would closely watch how nations voted on Thursday, suggesting there could be financial reprisals for countries that back the motion put forward by Yemen and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries.
“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump said at the White House.
“Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
The draft resolution mirrors the text that was vetoed on Monday, and although it does not mention Trump’s decision, it expresses “deep regret at recent decisions” concerning the city’s status.
Ahead of the vote, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the UN as a “house of lies,” saying Israel “rejects outright this vote, even before it passes.”
“The attitude to Israel of many nations in the world, in all the continents, is changing outside of the UN walls, and will eventually filter into the UN as well — the house of lies,” he said.
Diplomats expect strong support for the resolution, which is non-binding, despite the US pressure to either abstain, vote against it or simply not turn up for the vote.
America’s neighbors Canada and Mexico were both expected to abstain, according to diplomats.