Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump weighed in on Thursday on a controversial resolution approved earlier in the day by the UN’s cultural arm that erases the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and its holy sites, calling the move a “one-sided attempt to ignore Israel’s 3,000-year bond to its capital city” and “further evidence of the enormous anti-Israel bias” at the United Nations.
Trump said that under his potential administration, “the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the one true capital of Israel” and that “Israel will have a true, loyal and lasting friend in the United States of America.”
“Jerusalem is the enduring capital of the Jewish People and the overwhelming majority of Congress has voted to recognize Jerusalem as just that,” he said in a statement published on Facebook Thursday, hours after the vote, adding that the “United Nations’ attempt to disconnect the State of Israel from Jerusalem is a one-sided attempt to ignore Israel’s 3,000-year bond to its capital city, and is further evidence of the enormous anti-Israel bias of the UN.”
Trump also took the opportunity to criticize the Obama administration for a document last month which removed the word “Israel” from the Jerusalem dateline of a transcript of President Barack Obama’s eulogy at the funeral of the late Israeli statesman Shimon Peres.
“The decision by the Obama Administration to strike the word ‘Israel’ after the word ‘Jerusalem’ in the President’s prepared text was a capitulation to Israel’s enemies, and a posthumous embarrassment to Shimon Peres, whose memory the President was attempting to honor,” Trump said.
US policy since 1949 has been not to recognize Jerusalem as belonging to any nation until its status is settled through peace talks.
Israeli politicians reacted furiously to the UNESCO decision Thursday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “absurd,” and President Reuven Rivlin saying it an “embarrassment” for the UN body.
Lawmakers from both the right and left of the political spectrum said the decision, which refers to the Temple Mount and Western Wall only by their Muslim names and condemns Israel as “the occupying power” for various actions taken in both places, was ill-befitting of UNESCO.
The Executive Board of UNESCO is next week set to approve the resolution, which passed Thursday at the committee stage.
A host of American Jewish organizations also slammed UNESCO, accusing the organization of rewriting history as a way of undermining the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
What's next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? Rock and roll?
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 13, 2016
Twenty-four countries voted in favor of the resolution Thursday afternoon, six against and 26 abstained, though ambassador Carmel Shama-Hacohen praised the diplomatic effort that had changed several no votes in a similar resolution in April into abstentions this time around.
It was “a significant accomplishment,” that countries like France, Sweden, Argentina and India, which had earlier supported the declaration, now abstained, he told Army Radio.
“It’s not pleasant, ”he said, “but I’m pleased by the decision, relatively, because it was clear the decision would pass but we didn’t know which countries would support it. We had the goal of gaining back French support and our friends in Europe,” he said.
Voting in favor of the resolution were: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam.
Voting against were: Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States.
Abstaining were: Albania, Argentina, Cameroon, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, India, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and Nevis, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Ukraine.
Absent were: Serbia and Turkmenistan.