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Just How Big an Insult Was the UN's Jerusalem Vote?

The vote was 128-9 in favor of a resolution that demands decision be rescinded
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2017 11:40 AM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2017 1:35 PM CST
UN Votes Resoundingly Against Trump's Jerusalem Decision
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley 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...   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

(Newser) – "The US will be taking names," Nikki Haley warned Wednesday ahead of the UN General Assembly's Thursday vote on whether to reject President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It has a lot of names to take: The vote was 128-9 in favor of the nonbinding resolution that demands the US walk back its Dec. 6 declaration. The vote "amount[s] to a collective act of defiance toward Washington," the New York Times reports. The AP reports Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted by tweeting, "We expect the Trump administration to rescind without further delay its unfortunate decision, whose illegality has been clearly established."

  • How the vote went: There were 35 abstentions and 21 no-shows; one of the abstentions was Canada, which the Guardian reports had been thought to be a vote on the US side. Voting along with the US and Israel were Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, and Honduras, reports the Times of Israel. The Jerusalem Post sees the final tally as demonstrating Israel "has made inroads in Latin America"; it points out both Argentina and Mexico abstained.

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  • The resolution itself: Like the resolution voted on earlier by the UN security council, the general assembly's resolution, drafted by Turkey and Yemen, did not mention the US by name but called out "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem," reports the BBC. It also affirmed 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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded."
  • The US stance: Ahead of the vote, Haley reiterated funding-related threats. The Guardian has her key lines: "I must also say today: 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. If our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our investment in other ways. ... The United States will remember this day." CNN notes that Haley stated the US would move its embassy to Jerusalem regardless of the vote's outcome.
  • Significant/not significant: At Slate, Joshua Keating writes that the US funds about 20% of the UN budget, making Haley's threat a "hefty" one. But also an "absurdly disproportionate" one, he writes. "This is a nonbinding resolution against a purely symbolic US action." He points out that the general assembly in its most recent vote condemning the US embargo on Cuba voted 191–2 "with little discernible effect."

  • Meaning here, too: At Bloomberg, Eli Lake warns against "dismissing Haley's threat." Do so, and you'll miss "the significance of Trump's course correction at the United Nations. Trump's predecessor used the UN to validate American foreign policy." Haley has instead made clear that the UN is far more reliant on the US than vice versa, and it hasn't led to "America's isolation at the UN."
  • Israel's stance: "It's shameful that this meeting is even taking place," said ambassador Danny Danon in his address, per the Times.
  • The Palestinian stance: Ahead of the vote, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki had this to say, per the BBC: "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."
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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