US veto of UN Jerusalem resolution ‘unacceptable,’ Palestinians fume

US veto of UN Jerusalem resolution ‘unacceptable,’ Palestinians fume

Abbas signs international treaties as part of statehood drive, Fatah calls for day of rage during Pence visit; Haley slams Palestinian leaders for false claim US hostile to peace

File: Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 5, 2017. (Flash90)
File: Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 5, 2017. (Flash90)

The Palestinian Authority slammed as “unacceptable” Monday a US veto of a UN resolution against President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and vowed to take actions toward gaining statehood.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the veto was “unacceptable and threatens the stability of the international community because it disrespects it.”

The 14 other countries on the Security Council voted in favor, but US Ambassador Nikki Haley exercised the American veto.

Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP in Arabic that the support for the resolution, which included US allies France, Italy and Japan, “showed the (American) isolation. The international community must work now to protect the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinians are expected to bring the vote to the full General Essembly sometime later this week. Though the measure is almost certain to pass, unlike the Security Council, General Assembly resolutions are non-binding.

Trump’s December 6 announcement that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv has faced heavy criticism, not least from the Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a press conference following the Extraordinary Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Instanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017, in Istanbul. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)

Abbas said soon after Trump’s declaration that the move ended Washington’s historic role as the key sponsor for Israel-Palestinian peace talks — a role it has played since the early 1990s.

Trump’s speech “represents a declaration that the United States has withdrawn from playing the role it has played in the past decades in sponsoring the peace process,” he said at the time.

Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and have fumed against Trump’s move, including boycotting an upcoming visit by US Vice President Mike Pence to the region.

Statehood drive to continue

On Monday, Abbas signed 22 international agreements and treaties as part of a renewed campaign to gain international legitimacy for a Palestinian state, and said he would continue the drive unabated.

The measure came during the convening of two of the most senior Palestinian political bodies, the Fatah Revolutionary Council and the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Committee, both of which met in Ramallah to formulate a response to Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

Abbas said the names of the 22 organizations the PA is trying to join will be published tomorrow in the newspapers.

In his opening remarks to the PLO meeting, the PA chairman reiterated that the Palestinians would no longer view the US as a mediator in the peace process.

He also reasserted the PA’s intention to win full membership in the United Nations, and to join as many international organizations as possible, challenging the US’s request for Ramallah to refrain from taking unilateral actions toward statehood.

“Every Monday we will join 22, 30…international organizations…there are 522 organizations we have a right to belong to,” Abbas said, according to a transcript of his speech published by the official PA news site, Wafa.

Abbas also said that a committee would be formed to study any and all possible proposals that can be brought before the UN.

Meanwhile, Fatah declared after its meeting that it will form local leadership committees to help to “lead the popular resistance against the occupation.”

The organization has called for a day of rage in the Palestinian territories and across the world on Wednesday to coincide with Pence’s visit to Israel.

Trump’s Ambassador to the UN, Haley, explaining the US veto, castigated the response to the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: “The President took great care not to prejudge final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. That remains a subject to be negotiated only by the parties. That position is fully in line with the previous Security Council resolutions, ” she noted.

“The President was also careful to state that we support the status quo regarding Jerusalem’s holy sites, and we support a two-state solution if that’s what the parties agree to. Again, these positions are fully consistent with the previous Security Council resolutions. It is highly regrettable that some are trying to distort the President’s position to serve their own agendas.”

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (R) speaks during the UN Security Council meeting over the situation in the Middle East on December 18, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCUR)

She added: “A ‘peace process’ that is damaged by the simple recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is not a peace process; it is a justification for an endless stalemate. What does it gain the Palestinian people for some of their leaders to accuse the United States of being hostile to the cause of peace? It gains them nothing, but it risks costing them a great deal.”

“The United States,” Haley also noted, “has done more than any other country to assist the Palestinian people. By far. Since 1994, we have given over $5 billion to the Palestinians in bilateral economic assistance, security assistance, and humanitarian assistance.”

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