US vetoes UN resolution on withdrawing Trump’s Jerusalem decision

The US has vetoed the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Jerusalem, which had demanded the American decision recognizing the city as the Israeli capital be withdrawn. All other UNSC members voted in favor of the document.

The US exercised its veto right to “defend its sovereignty” as well as its role in the Middle East, Washington’s envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, said. She also repeatedly stated that US President Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is “fully consistent” and “in line with the previous UN resolutions.”

Other members of the UNSC remained unconvinced by Haley’s speech. The French envoy to the UN said in his speech that the US still “should explain compatibility of its decision [on Jerusalem] with the international consensus.” He also added that France “regrets” the outcome of the vote that has become a symbol of 14 UNSC members’ willingness to “confirm their attachment to international law.”

Any kind of unilateral action concerning Jerusalem “increases the risk of a conflict” in the region and makes direct talks as well as the peace process as a whole more difficult, the Russian Deputy Envoy to UN Vladimir Safronkov said, commenting on the issue. He also drew attention to the fact that the issue of Jerusalem is “the most sensitive issue in the [Israeli-Palestinian peace process] architecture.”

In the meantime, the Palestinian foreign minister announced that Palestine would call for an emergency UN General Assembly meeting following the US veto of the resolution in the UNSC.

Turkey said it was “shocked” by the US veto of the resolution. The move merely showed once again that Washington had “lost objectivity” in its approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that it was “unacceptable” that the UNSC has been left “ineffective” with such a move.

The US has been repeatedly warned that its decision would negatively affect the situation in the Middle East. Palestine and the Arab League told Washington that its recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would destroy the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, while Turkey said that such a move would be a “major catastrophe” and threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Israel if the US still decided to proceed with it.

Even the US allies in Europe urged Washington to be cautious in any action that could affect Jerusalem’s status. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned that any such decision would threaten the “meaningful peace process” and the two-state solution.
However, US President Donald Trump defied all the warnings and officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, provoking a wave of protests not only throughout the Middle East but in many countries all over the world.

By taking this step, the US not only dramatically escalated the situation around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also seems to have jeopardized its own credibility as a peace process mediator. Two days after the US move, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not meet with US Vice President Mike Pence in December, adding that the Palestinian Authority should seek a new mediator in peace talks with Israel.

On the same day, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, also said that the US had voided its status as a mediator in the Middle East peace process. He echoed the words of Abbas, by saying that a better mediator should be found to replace the United States.

The leaders of Islamic countries who gathered for an emergency summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in mid-December also said that Washington’s decision de facto deprived the US of the status of mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. They then called for East Jerusalem to be recognized as the capital of Palestine in response to the US move.