By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the United Nations as a “house of lies” ahead of a vote on Thursday on a draft resolution calling on the United States to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“The State of Israel totally rejects this vote, even before (the resolution’s) approval,” Netanyahu said in a speech at a hospital dedication in the port city of Ashdod.
The 193-member U.N. General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim countries to vote on the draft resolution, which the United States vetoed on Monday in the 15-member U.N. Security Council.
Generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim world, and concern among Washington’s Western allies, President Donald Trump abruptly reversed decades of U.S. policy on Dec. 6 when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Palestinians have protested daily in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip since Trump’s announcement, throwing stones at security forces and burning tires. Gaza militants have also launched sporadic rocket fire.
Eight Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire during the demonstrations and dozens wounded, Palestinian health officials said. Two militants were killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza after a rocket attack.
Trump threatened on Wednesday to cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor of the U.N. draft resolution, and his ambassador to the world body, Nikki Haley said the United States “will be taking names”.
Netanyahu, in his speech, thanked Trump and Haley for “their brave and uncompromising stance”. He repeated his prediction that other countries would eventually follow Washington’s lead in pledging to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“The attitude towards Israel of many countries, on all continents, outside the walls of the United Nations, is changing and will ultimately permeate into the U.N. – the house of lies,” he said.
Most countries regard the status of Jerusalem as a matter to be settled in an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, although that process is now stalled.
Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.
Several senior diplomats said Haley’s warning was unlikely to change many votes in the General Assembly, where such direct,public threats are rare. Some diplomats brushed off the warning as more likely aimed at impressing U.S. voters.
(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Ori Lewis and Angus MacSwan)