The Palestinian ambassador to the UN has rejected a US veto in the United Nations Security Council that called for a resolution against President Donald Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The draft resolution was backed on Monday by the 14 other Security Council members, including many US allies, highlighting Washington’s increasing isolation over an issue that has triggered mass rallies in support of the Palestinians in major international cities.
Speaking after the vote, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said: “It is paradoxical that while we were waiting for a peace plan from the US, the administration instead decided to further obstruct peace and delay its realisation.
“The US decision encourages Israel to persist in its crimes against the Palestinian people and to continue its occupation of our territory. No rhetoric will hide this complacency in prolonging the occupation,” he added.
On Monday, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an umbrella of Palestinian political parties, announced it would no longer accept the US as a partner in the peace process.
“We will not allow the US to be a mediator or a partner in the peace process,” said Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the PA, the Ramallah-based governmental body that administers parts of the occupied West Bank.
Abbas also promised to seek full membership for Palestine at the UN, despite a previous push failed to do so in 2011.
Currently, Palestine is a “non-member observer state”, meaning that it has the right to speak but not vote on resolutions.
“We will take political, diplomatic, and legal actions against Trump’s declaration regarding Jerusalem,” said Abbas.
‘Courage and honesty’
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said in the Security Council that “the United States had the courage and honesty to recognise a fundamental reality”.
“Jerusalem has been the political, cultural, and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people for thousands of years – they have had no other capital city,” she continued.
“The United States has the sovereignty to determine where and whether we establish an embassy,” said Haley, describing the vote as an “insult” that “won’t be forgotten”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video on his Twitter account in which he thanked Haley for the US veto.
“Thank you, Ambassador Haley. On [the Jewish holiday of] Hanukkah, you spoke like a Maccabi,” he said, likening her to a member of the Jewish community that is believed to have rebelled against the Romans.
“You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies. Thank you, President Trump. Thank you, Nikki Haley.”
Thank you, Ambassador Haley. On Hanukkah, you spoke like a Maccabi. You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies. Thank you, President Trump. Thank you, Nikki Haley. pic.twitter.com/zFIiStoait
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 18, 2017
Along with the UK, France, Russia, and China, the US is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, with the power to block any resolution from passing with the use of a veto.
The Egyptian-drafted text reiterated the UN position on Jerusalem, affirming “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”.
In an effort to keep Washington from exercising its veto power, the text did not mention the US by name, saying instead it “deeply regrets recent decisions regarding the status of Jerusalem”.
Francois Delattre, France’s ambassador to the UN, said his country regretted the US decision over Jerusalem.
“This draft resolution confirms an international consensus on Jerusalem that has been built over decades,” said Delattre.
The vote came less than two weeks after Trump’s controversial speech, which reversed decades of US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The US and the international community have long maintained that the solution to the Middle East conflict would be the formation of a Palestinian state – alongside the Israeli one – with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Trump’s declaration unleashed widespread anger and rallies within Palestine and in major cities across the world.
Since the decision, at least 10 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,800 injured in protests in the occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.