Israel rejects as ‘preposterous’ vote against Jerusalem at UNGA

Jerusalem: Israel has rejected as “preposterous” the vote by 127 countries, including India, at the UN General Assembly that opposed the recent decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

India yesterday joined 127 other countries to vote in the United Nations General Assembly in favour of a resolution opposing the recent decision of US President Donald Trump to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump on December 6 announced that he would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, triggering protests and strong condemnation from across the world.

Israel has rejected the “preposterous” vote at the UN General Assembly, thanking the nations that supported “the truth” by not participating in “the theatre of the absurd”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“Jerusalem is our capital. Always was, always will be,” Netanyahu said in a video message released immediately after the UN vote.

“But I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refused to participate in this theatre of the absurd. So I appreciate that, and especially I want to again express our thanks to (US) President (Donald) Trump and Ambassador (Nikki) Haley, for their stalwart defence of Israel and their stalwart defence of the truth,” Netanyahu said.

The United Nations General Assembly yesterday defied the US and overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel s capital, calling on countries not to move their diplomatic missions to the city.

“Let them vote against us… We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars,” Trump had said on Wednesday threatening to withdraw US aid to countries that vote in favour of the UN resolution.

“We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer,” the US President had asserted.

Israeli Jewish politicians expressed their anger against the world body but Arab parliamentarians called it a “wake up call”.

Israel’s hawkish Defence Minister, Avigdor Liberman, reminded Israelis of the longstanding Israeli disdain for such votes.

“Let us just remember that this is the same UN about which our first ambassador to the organisation, Abba Eban, once said: ‘If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions’”, Liberman said.

“There is nothing new in what just happened at the UN,” he added, and praised the US as “the moral beacon shining out of the darkness”.

Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Security Gilad Erdan also blasted the UN vote.

“The historic connection between Israel and Jerusalem is stronger than any vote by the ‘United Nations’ nations who are united only by their fear and their refusal to recognise the simple truth that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the Jewish people,” Erdan said in a statement after the vote.

He called upon for strengthening Israel’s sovereignty, security and construction in every part of Jerusalem.

However, the top Arab lawmaker in the Knesset, Arab Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, said the vote was a wake-up call for Israel.

“In the international arena, there still exists a large and definitive majority that believes that the Palestinian people, like all other nations, deserve a place in this world and the right to self-determination,” he said in a statement.

“This evening’s vote by the majority of the world’s nations against Trump’s announcement, in spite of the pressure and threats, flies in the face of Trump’s and Netanyahu’s diplomatic policy and is a clear statement by the international community in support of peace and the right of the Palestinians to an independent state, whose capital is East Jerusalem,” Odeh added.

Noa Landau, an analyst for the daily Ha’aretz, citing diplomatic sources, said that Israel was particularly disappointed with countries like India that have enhanced bilateral relations with it recently.

“The main disappointment in Israel was with the countries that have enhanced bilateral relations in recent years, especially those that share a particularly conservative worldview with the Netanyahu government,” Landau wrote.

“For example, India whose Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, visited Israel in July, a tour that was memorable mainly for the pastoral photographs of him and Netanyahu embracing and wading in the waves voted for the resolution against Israel and the United States,” she said.

The Israeli prime minister will be visiting India in January 14 to 18. PTI

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