By an overwhelming majority, Member States in the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday “demanded” that all countries comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem, following an earlier decision by the United States to recognize the Holy City as the capital of Israel.
Through a resolution adopted by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to nine against, with 35 abstentions, the 193-member Assembly expressed “deep regret” over recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem and stressed that the Holy City “is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant UN resolutions.”
Action in the Assembly today follows a failed attempt by the Security Council on Monday adopt a similar text reflecting regret among the body’s members about “recent decisions regarding the status of Jerusalem,” with a veto from the United States, a permanent member of the Council.
Ahead of that failed resolution, Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council that the security situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory had become more tense in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision on 6 December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Subsequently, Yemen and Turkey, in their respective capacities as Chair of the Arab Group and the Chair of the Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, requested the President of the General Assembly to “urgently resume’ the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly in accordance with the so-named ‘Uniting for peace’ procedure.
This procedure, under Assembly resolution 377 (1950), is a pathway around a Security Council veto. By it, the Assembly can call an emergency special session to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures,” if the Security Council fails to act or if there is lack of unanimity among the Council’s permanent members, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Since the tenth such meeting, the Assembly has temporarily adjourned the emergency special session and authorized “the President of the General Assembly […] to resume its meeting upon request from Member States,” allowing for speedy consideration by the body of urgent issues.
The most recent resumed emergency session was in 2009 when the Assembly called a meeting on East Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Resolutions in the Assembly are non-binding and do not carry the force of international law as do measures agreed in the Security Council.
Today’s resolution demanded that “all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.”
The General Assembly further affirmed 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.”
In that regard the Assembly also called upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to Security Council resolution 478 adopted in 1980.
Reiterating its call for the reversal of the negative trends that endanger the two-State solution, the Assembly urged greater international and regional efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Those who voted against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital include India. This was despite the fact that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting India in January 2018 and that Delhi is a close ally of US and Tel Aviv.
Those who voted against Trump’s move also disregarded his threat of cutting aid to countries that backed the draft resolution and called out the US president for “bullying”. Trump’s threat had come a day after US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the US will be “taking names” as “we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us”.
Reports see the resolution against the US decision as a response by the world that has literally forced US faced isolated and humiliated. “United States should decide whether to stand with the world or an occupying force which is the reason for instability and chaos in the Middle East,” Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi said in a statement. “Pakistan is among the countries which have co-sponsored this resolution.”