The United States vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other U.N. Security Council members that would have required President Donald Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a vote that showed the depth of global opposition to the U.S. move.
The United States was certain to veto the Egyptian-sponsored resolution, but its Arab supporters wanted the vote to demonstrate that countries everywhere and even many U.S. allies such as Britain, France and Japan are against Trump’s action.
The Palestinians immediately announced that they will seek a resolution with similar demands in the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes. But unlike the Security Council, the assembly’s resolutions are not legally binding.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters after meeting with the General Assembly president that he expects a vote this week.
He said he hopes for “overwhelming support” telling the Trump administration that the international community doesn’t accept the U.S. position, which he said violates international law and Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the Security Council resolution “an insult” that won’t be forgotten, saying the United Nations forced the U.S. to cast a veto simply because of its right to decide where to put its embassy. She said the veto — the first cast by the U.S. in more than six years — was done “in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process.”
The vetoed resolution would have demanded that all countries comply with 10 resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
It would also have 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status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”
Trump shattered decades of unwavering U.S. neutrality on Jerusalem on Dec. 6 when he declared that the United States recognizes the divided holy city as Israel’s capital and will move its embassy there. Trump insisted that after repeated peace failures it was past time for a new approach, saying his decision was merely based on reality.
The status of Jerusalem has been a central issue in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Trump’s announcement was widely perceived as taking the side of Israel. It countered an international consensus that Jerusalem’s status should be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Trump’s announcement triggered denunciations and demonstrations around the world. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement and other groups organized mass protests while its rival, the Gaza-based Islamic militant group Hamas, has called for a third violent uprising against Israel.
Trump has been working on a new Mideast peace plan and says he remains committed to brokering a deal, despite the Jerusalem move.
Haley told the council “the United States has never been more committed to peace in the Middle East,” and called accusations that the U.S. is setting back the prospect for peace “scandalous.”
But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in some of his sharpest rhetoric since Trump’s announcement, reiterated in public comments to senior Palestinian officials Monday that he will no longer accept the U.S. as a Mideast mediator.
He said “a crazy person wouldn’t accept” that role for Washington after Trump’s action.
Haley said Trump “took great care not to prejudge final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” which must be decided by the Israelis and Palestinians. And she insisted that this position “is fully in line with the previous Security Council resolutions.”
But one by one, ambassadors of the 14 countries that supported the resolution said after the vote that the U.S. violated council resolutions which make clear that no country can unilaterally decide that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said, “The status of Jerusalem should be determined through a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.