UN Security Council considering resolution to annul US Jerusalem decision

Vote possible in next few days; US veto would stop move; Turkey has vowed to go to non-binding General Assembly if thwarted at Security Council

US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley at the UN Security Council, December 8, 2017 (United Nations)
US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley at the UN Security Council, December 8, 2017 (United Nations)

The United Nations Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would nullify US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Reuters reported Saturday.

According to the report, the one-page text, seen by the news agency, was drafted by Egypt and does not specifically mention the US or Trump.

Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon slammed the move as another Palestinian attempt to rewrite history.

“No vote or discussion can change the clear reality — Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, now and always. We will continue to fight for the historical truth, this time, together with our allies,” Danon said.

The report came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Muslim nations would ask the United Nations for an “annulment” of Trump’s December 6 decision.

It’s highly unlikely that any resolution would pass the Security Council, where the US is one of five permanent members with a veto. US Ambassador Nikki Haley is a staunch supporter of Israel, who has made eliminating UN bias against Israel a key goal. Haley praised Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as “the just and right thing to do.”

Erdogan said the initiative would start at the UN Security Council, where a vote would carry more weight, but promised, if it was vetoed there, that “we will work within the UN General Assembly for the annulment of this unjust and lawless decision.” General Assembly decisions are non-binding.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Extraordinary Summit in Istanbul, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (Yasin Bulbul/Pool Photo via AP)

The draft UN resolution “affirms that 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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council,” Reuters said.

It also “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.” Trump in his declaration said he was giving instructions for the eventual relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The draft council resolution “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,” Reuters said.

In December 2016, toward the end of the Obama Administration, the Security Council voted through a resolution that “underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.” Bitterly opposed by Israel, the vote passed 14-0 with the US abstaining. Trump’s transition team reportedly tried to block the resolution.

Erdogan’s comments followed Wednesday’s summit of Muslim and Arab nations — the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation — which declared East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine and urged the world to recognize the state of Palestine.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, flanked by other leaders poses for photographs during a photo-op prior to the opening session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, December 13, 2017. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

Turkey has been one of the most vocal critics of Trump’s December 6 decision on recognizing Jerusalem.

With the Islamic world itself mired in division, the Wednesday summit in Istanbul fell well short of agreeing on any concrete sanctions against Israel or the United States.

But its final statement declared “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine” and invited “all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.”

The statement declared Trump’s decision “null and void legally” and “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts” that would give impetus to “extremism and terrorism.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a press conference following a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on last week’s US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, on December 13, 2017, in Istanbul. (AFP/Yasin Akgul)

It also said Trump’s move was “an announcement of the US administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace” in the Middle East, echoing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector, which the international community regards as annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.

In his address from the White House, Trump said that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue. He described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

Trump, whose declaration was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, 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.

US President Donald Trump signing a proclamation that the US government will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at the White House in Washington, DC, December 6, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via JTA)

Erdogan — who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause — denounced Israel at the Wednesday OIC summit as a state defined by “occupation” and “terror.”

“With this decision, Israel was rewarded for all the terrorist activities it has carried out. It is Trump who bestowed this award even,” said Erdogan, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the OIC.

He said all countries who “value international law and fairness” should recognize “occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” saying Islamic countries would “never give up” on this demand.

Using unusually strong language, Abbas at the summit warned that there could be “no peace or stability” in the Middle East until Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Moreover, he said that with Trump’s move the United States had withdrawn itself from a traditional role as the mediator in the search for Mideast peace.

“We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on. Because it is completely biased towards Israel,” Abbas said.

US President Donald Trump (L) and PA President Mahmoud Abbas leave following a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

Trump’s announcement last week prompted an outpouring of anger in the Muslim and Arab world, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce the Jewish state and show solidarity with the Palestinians.

Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, has called for a new intifada against Israel and urged Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers. Abbas’s Fatah movement called for days of rage in response to Trump’s declaration.

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