The drama surrounding the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital continues.
In a show of solidarity with Israel, the United States blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution early last week that would have overruled President Trump’s decision.
The 14 other member nations supported the resolution, underscoring America’s lone stand on the controversy.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said she cast the veto “in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process.”
The resolution, called for by Egypt, declared as null and void “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition” of the city, and urged countries not to establish diplomatic missions in the city.
Jerusalem’s status is one of the most controversial and emotional issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. President Trump’s decision on December 6 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and begin preparations for moving the U.S. embassy there from its current location in Tel Aviv sparked rage among Arab countries and strong criticism from many U.S. allies.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his gratitude for the U.S. veto, saying, “Thank you, Ambassador Haley. On Hanukkah, you spoke like a Maccabi. You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies. Thank you, President Trump.”
Amid the uproar, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is claiming the U.S. has no role in future peace talks. And an Abbas adviser called the U.S. veto a “provocation” that “will not help in creating peace in the region.”
Israel’s U.N. ambassador Danny Danon said Security Council resolutions criticizing Israel will not change history. “It’s time for all countries to recognize that Jerusalem always was and always will be the capital of the Jewish people and the capital of Israel,” he said.
“Remember this day”
Following the U.S. veto, the 193-member U.N. General Assembly held a rare emergency special session late last week at the request of Arab and Muslim states.
Only 10 such sessions have been convened. The last occurrence was in 2009, when the body discussed occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian territories.
In last week’s special session, the UN overwhelmingly rejected Trump's recognition of the disputed city. By a 128-9 vote, the diplomats gathered in New York City ignored U.S. objections and approved a nonbinding resolution calling on countries to avoid moving their embassies to Jerusalem.
Among the countries voting in favor of the resolution are many U.S. allies, including the United Kingdom and France. Israel joined the U.S. in voting against the measure. It is also important to note that 35 countries abstained, including U.S. allies Canada and Australia.
Earlier in the day, before the assembly voted on the largely symbolic measure, Ambassador Haley expressed her displeasure in no uncertain terms.
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley said Thursday.
"We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world's largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit."
The U.S. retaliates
Meanwhile, in what will be interpreted as a further escalation of pressure from the Trump administration, the U.S. announced significant cuts in its U.N. budget obligations for 2018-2019, reports The Guardian.
In a statement released over the holidays, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said next year’s budget would be slashed by more than $285 million.
“We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of,” Haley said in a statement. She added that the “inefficiency and overspending” of the U.N. is “well known.”
Under the U.N. charter, America is responsible for 22 percent of the body’s annual operating budget, or approximately $1.2 billion in 2017-2018. The U.S. is also responsible for 28.5 percent of the cost of peacekeeping operations, estimated at $6.8 billion during the same period.
Pray for peace during these special days
The timing of the budget announcement sends a clear message to the U.N., and especially to those who oppose Israel.
Many Americans who have grown weary of the ongoing and obvious anti-Israel bias at the U.N. will applaud this decision to stand with Israel and cut U.N. funding. What real impact it will have on the body’s decision-making, if any, remains unclear.
But I believe we have done the right thing by signaling our waning patience with U.N. behavior — and especially with nations that hate Israel and seek to oppose U.S. efforts to bring peace and stability to the Middle East.
During this traditional season of peace, I’d like to ask you to join Jewish Voice in praying not only for peace in the region, but as always, for the peace of Israel and Jerusalem, as the Scriptures direct us.
We also appreciate your prayers for us here at Jewish Voice Ministries as we bring hope and health to Jewish communities around the world. Your prayer and financial support are such an encouragement, as they make this life-transforming work possible.