At UN Center in New York, a resolution condemning Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital won a 128 majority of 193 member-states at the General Assembly, with 9 votes against, 25 abstentions and 21 absentees on Thursday, Dec. 21. This was a less than satisfactory outcome for the Palestinians, who had expected their usual success in sweeping the international board. The Trump administration fought back by threatening to hit opponents in the pocket and Ambassador Nikki Haley’s powerful eloquence did the rest.
DEBKAfile’s sources noticed, however, that, although the Palestinians had defined this vote as “fateful” for Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was conspicuously absent from his delegation’s corner.
DEBKAfile’s sources picked him up 11,000 kilometers away at the Abu Dhabi palace of UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (MbZ). Instead of collecting international pats on the back for the majority UN vote, he had been forced to endure a dressing-down from one of the most powerful and wealthy Arab leaders, who told him in no uncertain terms: The international struggle for Jerusalem is no doubt important and the UAE will of course be behind you. But first, you must stop beating on Donald Trump’s Jerusalem policy as though it is a declaration of war. Furthermore, Sheikh bin Zayed insisted, you had better break off ties this instant with Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, and distance yourselves from his anti-American abuse.
Abbas had been summoned to Riyadh the day before, where he was given an audience with King Salman. But before he was out of the palace door, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman gave him a bawling out which presaged the one he received in Abu Dhabi.
Both Arab rulers made it abundantly clear to Mahmoud Abbas that to win their support on Jerusalem, he will have to back away fast from the front he has opened up with Erdogan against President Trump and the United States. The fate of Jerusalem was therefore determined Thursday in the Arabian Gulf region rather than New York where the UN vote was little more than a formality.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned Thursday that Washington would not stand for being “disrespected” by UN countries, as the General Assembly debated a motion rejecting US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as a plan to relocate its embassy there.
Haley said the resolution, which passed with a large majority, was an attack on the United States and its right to exercise its own sovereign policy.
The General Assembly passed the resolution with 128 nation in favor, nine nations voting against and 35 countries abstaining.
She warned that the motion could cause the US to pull funding from the UN.
“The United States will remember this day,” she said, when it was attacked in the General Assembly for exercising its sovereignty. It “will remember” that the US was again asked to make the largest contribution of any country to the UN, she said, and it will remember how the vote went when other countries come to the US for help.
At an emergency session, the UN General Assembly discussed a draft resolution reaffirming that Jerusalem was an issue that must be resolved through negotiations and that any decision on its status has no legal effect and must be rescinded.
“When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have expectation that we will be respected,” Haley said. “We are being asked to pay for the dubious privileges of being disrespected.”
Haley said she sometimes wondered why Israel, so unfairly treated for so long by the UN, remained a member of the organization. But, she said, she realized it needed to stand up for itself.
“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem,” she stressed, so the vote would have no impact on policy. But it would influence how Americans look at the UN and its component countries, she said.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki, addressing the assembly as the session got underway, appealed for support and referenced America’s warning that it was “taking names” among countries that oppose it at the UN.
“This organization is now undergoing an unprecedented test,” al-Malki said.
“History records names, it remembers names — the names of those who stand by what is right and the names of those who speak falsehood. Today we are seekers of rights and peace.”
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said that the US decision to recognize Jerusalem “constitutes an aggression towards the Palestinian people.
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