Palestinians to seek full UN backing if US vetoes Jerusalem resolution

Security Council draft to be voted on Monday says Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem is ‘null and void’ and ‘must be rescinded’

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 11, 2015. (Flash90)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 11, 2015. (Flash90)

The Palestinians will seek United Nations General Assembly support if the US vetoes a Security Council resolution against its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister said Monday.

The Security Council is expected to vote later Monday on a draft resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The vote, called by Egypt, is likely to see the United States use its veto power.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the Palestinians would seek support at the General Assembly if the US Ambassador Nikki Haley exercises Washington’s veto.

While Haley considers “the veto a source of pride and strength, we will show her their position is isolated and rejected internationally,” Malki said in a statement.

A copy of the draft resolution released to the media hours before the vote, expected Monday morning New York time, expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem” and calls for new peace talks and “an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.”

“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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to resolution 478 (1980) of the Security Council,” the text reads.

The draft also demands “that all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers a speech during a United Nations Security Council meeting on December 8, 2017 in New York City (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP)

The UN General Assembly is expected to hold a plenary session Tuesday, including a discussion on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

The five permanent members of the Security Council have veto power, but there are no vetoes at the General Assembly, where the Palestinians can expect an overwhelming majority. However, General Assembly decisions are non-binding.

Breaking with international consensus, Trump on December 6 recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said he would move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. While welcomed by Israeli politicians, the move sparked protests and strong condemnation across the Muslim world and Europe.

Trump emphasized in his declaration that the city’s final borders should be agreed upon between the two sides in negations and that there should be no change in access to Jerusalem’s holy sites.

US Vice President Mike Pence will arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday, wading into the crisis over one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A picture taken from the Mount of Olives shows the Old City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock shrine in the center, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has scrapped a meeting with Pence in protest at the Jerusalem announcement, and will instead head to Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Abbas has sought to unify the Muslim world in opposition to Trump’s Jerusalem move. Last week, he attended an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the matter, where he said the US should no longer have a role in the peace process and intimated that Jews have falsified their history and religion.

On Monday night, the Palestinian leadership will meet for the first time since Trump’s announcement.

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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