Washington: The United States has stood isolated in the powerful UN Security Council as the member nations cornered it on the decision of President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Even its closest allies and partners like Britain and France came out openly lambasting it for the decision.
US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, was the sole voice supporting Trump’s decision on Jerusalem during an emergency meeting held by the 15-membered powerful body of the UN this afternoon.
“We disagree with the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“It is not in line with Security Council resolutions and is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region,” said Permanent Representatives of Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and Sweden in a joint statement.
The status of Jerusalem, they said, must be determined through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians leading to a final status agreement.
It is a constant position of EU members that, within this framework, Jerusalem should ultimately be the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states. Until then, we recognise no sovereignty over Jerusalem, the five members of the UN Security Council said.
Britain and France are the permanent members of the Security Council.
The emergency meeting was presided over by the Ambassador of Japan, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council for December.
Strongly defending Trump’s decision, Haley told the UN Security Council that the US took the step in “full knowledge that it will raise questions and concerns”.
“Our actions are intended to help advance the cause of peace. We must recognise that peace is advanced, not set back, when all parties are honest with each other. Our actions reflected an honest assessment of reality,” she said.
“The US recognises the obvious that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Trump has instructed the State Department to begin the process of relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That is what the President has done,” Haley said.
She said the US has not taken a position on borders, and the sovereignty issue should be decided by Israelis and Palestinians through negotiations.
“And this is what he has not done: The United States has not taken a position on boundaries or borders. The specific dimensions of sovereignty over Jerusalem are still to be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians in negotiations, the US envoy said.
“The US has not advocated changing any of the arrangements at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. The President specifically called for maintaining the status quo at the holy sites,” she added.
But her argument could not convince the rest of the 14 members of the Security Council, making it one of the rarest of the rare occasion when the United States stood isolated in the world body.
British Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft said the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing — it should be determined through a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.
In line with Security Council Resolutions, Britain regards East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, he said.
“We therefore disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel before a final status agreement,” Rucroft said.
He said decisions like these are “unhelpful” to the prospects for peace in the region which is an aim that all of us in this Council remain committed to.
The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it, Rycroft said.
In his remarks Dr Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, said the “extremely regrettable” announcement, on 6 December, by Trump, in direct contravention of Security Council resolutions and the longstanding international consensus on Jerusalem, has heightened tensions and risks complete destabilisation of this volatile situation, with far-reaching consequences.
The Security Council, he said, must reaffirm its clear position on the status of Jerusalem and affirm its rejection of all violations of that status by “whomever and whenever”.
Security Council resolutions remain fully valid and must be implemented; these resolutions are the key to peace, Mansour said.
“The Council must act to restore the Palestinian people’s belief in international law as the most viable path the realisation of our rights and freedom, to restore our belief that peace is possible, and to ensure that not another generation will suffer this grave injustice,” the Palestinian Ambassador said.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, in his address, thanked Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Haley, saying that “we are grateful to the United States for its courageous decision”.
Israel and Palestine are not members of the Security Council.
Addressing to the Council members, Danon held up a replica of a first-century coin.
“I have here a replica of an ancient coin found on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It is dated from the year 67 AD during the time of the second Jewish Temple. The words ‘Jerusalem the Holy’ are written on it. Only three years later, in the year 70 AD, would our holy temple be destroyed and the Jewish people sent into exile for 2,000 years”. PTI