By a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 9 against (Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Togo, United States), with 35 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the resolution “Status of Jerusalem”, by which it declared “null and void” any actions intended to alter Jerusalem’s character, status or demographic composition. Calling on all States to refrain from establishing embassies in the Holy City, it also demanded that they comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions and work to reverse the “negative trends” imperilling a two State resolution of the Israeliâ€‘Palestinian conflict.
“We meet today not because of any animosity to the United States of America,” insisted Riad Alâ€‘Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine. Instead, the emergency session had been called to make the voice of the vast majority of the international community — and that of people around the world — heard on the question of Jerusalem/Alâ€‘Quds Alâ€‘Sharif. He described the 6 December decision by the United States to recognize the city as Israel’s capital, and to move its embassy there, as an aggressive and dangerous move, cautioning that it could inflame tensions and lead to a religious war that “has no boundaries”.
He went on to state that the decision would have no impact on the Holy City’s status, but it nevertheless compromised the role of the United States in the peace process. Moreover, it did nothing but serve the forces of extremism around the world, he said, pointing out that even the closest allies of the United States could not turn a blind eye to its actions. The Assembly was meeting in the wake of the Security Council’s failure to adopt a similar draft resolution, even as 14 of its 15 members had voted in its favour. “The veto will not stop us,” he declared in that regard, underlining that Alâ€‘Quds “will not fall to any siege, monopolization or domination”.
The representative of the United States, however, said she stood firmly behind the Administration’s decision, declaring: “America will put its embassy in Jerusalem.” Its citizens would remember today’s votes, including the countries that had disrespected the United States and singled it out, she warned. Pointing out her country’s standing as by far the largest single contributor to the United Nations, she said its contributions were intended to advance its national values and interests, but when such an investment failed, the Government would be obliged to spend its resources “in more productive ways”.
Israel’s representative, meanwhile, said oneâ€‘sided antiâ€‘Israel resolutions had been pushing the Middle East peace process back for years. The Assembly remained in constant open session when it came to Israel, though the world was full of conflict, he noted, adding that the recent decision by the United States only declared what had always been true: “Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the State of Israel.” Today’s vote, therefore, was nothing more than the performance of a delusion, and the text did absolutely nothing to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.
At the meeting’s outset, Yemen’s representative presented the draft resolution in his capacity as Chair of the Arab Group and one of its two main coâ€‘sponsors, the other being Turkey, current Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Describing the decision by the United States as a blatant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, as well as those of all Christians and Muslims, he emphasized that it constituted a dangerous breach of the Charter of the United Nations and a serious threat to international peace and security, while also undermining the chances for a twoâ€‘State solution and fuelling the fires of violence and extremism.
Venezuela’s delegate, speaking for the Nonâ€‘Aligned Movement, expressed grave concern about Israel’s ongoing violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including attempts to alter the character, status and demographic composition of the City of Jerusalem. Also concerned about the decision to relocate the United States embassy, he warned that such provocative actions would further heighten tensions, with potentially farâ€‘reaching repercussions given the extremely volatile backdrop.
Malaysia’s representative echoed those sentiments, rejecting the Jerusalem decision as an infringement on the Palestinian people’s rights. It had also caused dismay and frustration across the Muslim world, he added. Since the issue lay at the heart of the Palestinian cause, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital endorsed Israel’s brutal occupation and repressive policies, he said. “We are concerned that this dire situation will only feed into the agenda of the extremists and frustrate our collective efforts in our bigger objective of combating terrorism and ending the vicious cycle of violence.”
Several delegates spoke in explanation of position, with Australia’s representative explaining that she had abstained because although her country’s Government did not support unilateral action that undermined the peace process, it did not believe today’s text would help to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.
Canada’s representative said he had abstained because the resolution was oneâ€‘sided and did not advance the prospects for peace.
Meanwhile, Paraguay’s representative said he had abstained because his delegation’s position was that the question of Jerusalem was a matter for the Security Council, as the primary body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Mexico’s representative said he had also abstained, while emphasizing that convening an emergency session was a disproportionate response. The United States must become part of the solution, not a stumbling block that would hamper progress, he emphasized, noting that the international community was further than ever from agreement.
Also speaking were representatives of Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Maldives, Syria, Bangladesh, Cuba, Iran, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Africa, Estonia (on behalf of several States), El Salvador, Argentina, Romania, Nicaragua, Czech Republic, Armenia, Hungary and Latvia, as well as the Permanent Observer for the Holy See.