By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States was further isolated on Monday over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when it blocked a United Nations Security Council call for the declaration to be withdrawn.
The remaining 14 council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”
“What we witnessed here in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said after the vote, adding that it was the first veto cast by the United States in more than six years.
“The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council,” Haley said.
The U.N. draft resolution 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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”
Trump abruptly reversed decades of U.S. policy this month when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world and concern among Washington’s western allies.
“In the wake of the decision of the United States … the situation has become more tense with an increase in incidents, notably rockets fired from Gaza and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces,” U.N. Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council ahead of the vote.
EMERGENCY GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
Trump also plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The draft U.N. resolution had called upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Haley and Trump for the veto in a video clip posted on his Facebook page.
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 a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.
Following the U.S. veto, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Arab states, which had agreed earlier this month to seek a Security Council resolution, would meet to evaluate the situation to determine what their next steps might be.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said the Palestinians would seek a rare emergency special session of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Trump’s decision.
Under a 1950 resolution, an emergency special session can be called for the General Assembly to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures” if the Security Council fails to act.
Only 10 such sessions have been convened, and the last time the General Assembly met in such a session was in 2009 on Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian territories. Any outcome of such a session is non-binding, but carries political weight.
(Additional reporting by Arwa Gaballa in Cairo and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; Editing by Will Dunham and James Dalgleish)