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Thailand joins 127 others in denouncing Jerusalem move

NEW YORK: Thailand has joined 127 other countries in the UN General Assembly which voted on Thursday (Dec 21) to denounce US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, largely ignoring Mr Trump’s threats to cut off aid to any country that went against him.

politics, economics,


Bangkok Post

Saturday 23 December 2017, 09:48AM


The vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the US’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was declared ‘null and void’ by 128 votes to 9. Photo: AFP
The vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the US’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was declared ‘null and void’ by 128 votes to 9. Photo: AFP

Chulalongkorn University political scientist Surachart Bamrungsuk welcomed the Thai government’s decision.

“I am glad Thailand voted this way. We could’ve chosen to abstain like 35 other countries did. Instead, we chose to show a clear stance even if it means going against the US. It also shows the Muslim community in Thailand that our country does not always have the same stance as the US,” he said.

The nonbinding resolution declaring US action on Jerusalem “null and void”' was approved 128-9 – a victory for the Palestinians, but not as big as they predicted. Amid Washington’s threats, 35 of the 193 UN member nations abstained and 21 were absent.

The resolution reaffirmed what has been the UN’s stand on the divided holy city since 1967: that Jerusalem’s final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Trump administration made it clear the vote would have no effect on its plan to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said afterward that he completely rejects the “preposterous”' resolution.

Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour called the vote a victory not only for the Palestinians but for the UN and international law, saying US ambassador Nikki Haley “failed miserably”' in persuading only seven countries aside from the US and Israel to vote against the resolution.

“And they used unprecedented tactics, unheard of in the diplomatic work at the UN, including blackmail and extortion,'” he said.

The US and Israel had waged an intensive lobbying campaign against the measure, with Ms Haley sending letters to over 180 countries warning that Washington would be taking names of those who voted against the US Trump went further, threatening a funding cutoff: “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

But in the end, major US aid recipients including Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa supported the resolution. Egypt received roughly US$1.4 billion in US aid this year, and Jordan about US$1.3 billion.

 

The nine countries voting “no” were the US, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, the Marshall Islands and Togo. Among the abstentions were Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Mexico.

The absent countries included Kenya, which was the fifth-largest recipient of US aid last year, Georgia and Ukraine, all of which have close US ties.

After the vote, Ms Haley tweeted a photo naming the 65 nations that voted no, abstained or were absent, and said: “We appreciate these countries for not falling to the irresponsible ways of the UN'”.

She later sent invitations to the 65 ambassadors inviting them to a reception on Jan 3 to thank them for their friendship with the US.

The US is scheduled to dispense US$25.8 billion in foreign aid for 2018. Whether Mr Trump follows through with his threat against those who voted “yes”' remains to be seen.

But within hours, the Trump administration appeared to be backing away from its funding threats. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said cuts to countries that opposed the US are not a foregone conclusion.

“The president’s foreign policy team has been empowered to explore various options going forward with other nations,” Ms Nauert said. “However, no decisions have been made.'”

During the debate, Arab, Islamic and non-aligned nations urged a “yes”' vote on the resolution, which was sponsored by Yemen and Turkey.

Yemeni ambassador Khaled Hussein Mohamed Alyemany warned that Mr Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem undermines any chance for peace in the Mideast and “serves to fan the fires of violence and extremism'”.

He called Mr Trump’s action “a blatant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nations, and all Muslims and Christians of the world”', and “a dangerous violation and breach of international law'”.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump complained that Americans are tired of being taken advantage of by countries that take billions of dollars and then vote against the US Ms Haley echoed his words in her speech to the packed assembly chamber, threatening not only member states with funding cuts, but the UN itself.

Ms Haley said the vote will make no difference in US plans to move the American embassy, but it “will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN, and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.'”

“And this vote will be remembered,'” she warned.

 

Read original story here.

 

 

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