Trump: Countries against Jerusalem move are enemies

President went off script during State of the Union speech to say those against his decision are ‘enemies’ of the US.

A Sudanese mans mokes a hookah during President Donald Trump''s State of the Union speech in New York
A Sudanese man, who wished to remain unidentified, smokes a hookah during Trump's State of the Union speech at a hookah and coffee shop in New York [Amr Alfiky/Reuters]

US President Donald Trump used his first State of the Union address on Tuesday to describe countries which voted against his move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as “enemies of America”.

Trump’s announcement on December 6, which included a decision to move the US embassy to the Holy City from Tel Aviv, was internationally condemned.


Shortly after, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) voted the declaration as “null and void”.

According to a copy of Trump’s planned address on Tuesday, the US president was expected to say: “Dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to make this recognition.

“American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year. That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.”

When the moment came, however, Trump added: “Not enemies of America”. 

The seemingly impromptu remark essentially labelled 128 countries as enemies.


The US typically limits its definition of an “enemy” or adversary to state sponsors of “terror”. The State Department lists countries including Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria as enemies.

“I am not going to characterise the president’s words,” a State Department spokesperson told Al Jazeera. The UNGA vote is “a non-binding resolution that does nothing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or advance the cause of peace.”

While 128 countries voted for the resolution, 35 member states abstained, and seven voted against.

The Trump administration has held receptions in Washington, DC, celebrating those seven countries, including Palau, Nauru and Israel.

The United Kingdom, most of the European Union and Washington’s military partners such as Iraq and Afghanistan, were among those who voted in favour of the resolution.

The EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini said the bloc expressed “serious concern” about the move and said Europe remained committed to a two-state solution.

Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital has also sparked protests across the world. 

Unrest over the issue continues in the occupied Palestinian territories today.

The EU and Norway convened on Wednesday an extraordinary session of the International Donor Group for Palestine to “discuss measures to speed up efforts that can underpin a negotiated” solution.

No country currently has its embassy in Jerusalem.

Source: Al Jazeera