Israeli diplomats gird for UN General Assembly vote on Jerusalem
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Israeli diplomats gird for UN General Assembly vote on Jerusalem

Foreign ministry instructs embassies to lobby against non-binding resolution to annul US recognition of Israeli capital, up for Thursday vote

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley voting against a Security Council resolution on Jerusalem on December 18, 2017. (Eskinder Debebe/UN)
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley voting against a Security Council resolution on Jerusalem on December 18, 2017. (Eskinder Debebe/UN)

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday instructed its embassies to lobby against an upcoming United Nations General Assembly resolution that aims to annul the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Palestinians raised the non-binding resolution for a vote on Thursday in the 193-member main body of the UN after the US vetoed a similar — but binding — resolution at the UN Security Council on Monday.

In a memo to its missions around the world, the Foreign Ministry advised diplomats to encourage their host countries to oppose the new resolution at the General Assembly. In the case of countries that are planning to back the resolution, diplomats were urged to encourage their local counterparts to at least refrain from expressing public support for the Palestinian proposal.

Israeli diplomats were told to emphasize that the resolution is one-sided and will harm prospects for peace by undermining US President Donald Trump, and may also lead to further violence in the region.

The resolution cannot be vetoed by the US. In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted by 138-9, with 41 abstentions, to upgrade “Palestine” to the status of nonmember state.

Also Tuesday, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan appealed for countries to back the General Assembly resolution.

During a joint news conference with Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, the Turkish leader said it was “important and meaningful” that the fourteen other members of the Security Council supported the initial resolution that was stopped by the US veto.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh during a welcoming ceremony in Ankara, on December 19, 2017. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP)

The Turkish leader said: “I invite all UN member countries to defend Jerusalem’s historic status (in the 193-member General Assembly).”

Erdogan has been among the most vocal critics of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem and organized an emergency meeting last week in Istanbul of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation that aimed to unify the countries’ response to the US move. The OIC called on the international community to respond by recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Monday’s UN Security Council resolution had condemned the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and called on countries not to move diplomatic missions to the city. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s “no” vote ensured that it was rejected. It was the first US veto in the Security Council since Trump took office nearly a year ago.

In an address December 6 from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality. He also said the US embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but did not give a schedule for the relocation.

The announcement was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites. Trump’s declaration was criticized by many countries, condemned by the Arab world, and infuriated Palestinians who held violent demonstrations for several days in the West Bank and on the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

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