Middle East

UN Security Council considers vote to reject Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision as 80,000 protest in Jakarta

Diplomats said they expected the United States to use its veto power to block the measure while most, if not all, of the 14 other council members were expected to back the draft resolution

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 2:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 9:46pm

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution affirming that any change to the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect and must be reversed, in response to the US decision to recognise the city as Israel’s capital.

Egypt circulated the draft text on Saturday, and diplomats said the council could vote on the proposed measure as early as Monday.

Breaking with the international consensus, US President Donald Trump this month announced that he would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, sparking protests and strong condemnation.

The move was condemned by globally and sparked protests across Arab and Muslim countries.

On Sunday, about 80,000 Muslims marched from the main mosque in Indonesia’s capital to a square in Jakarta in the biggest protest in Indonesia since Trump’s controversial move.

Anwar Abbas, a top cleric from the Indonesian Council of Ulema, read a petition calling on Indonesians to stop buying American products until Trump revoked his move.

“Don’t rely on their products,” he said, as the crowd responded by waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags and shouting “boycott!”

The draft resolution stresses that Jerusalem is an issue “to be resolved through negotiations” and expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”, without specifically mentioning Trump’s move.

“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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded,” it said.

Diplomats said they expected the United States to use its veto power to block the measure while most, if not all, of the 14 other council members were expected to back the draft resolution.

US Vice-President Mike Pence will visit Jerusalem on Wednesday, wading into the crisis over one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital. The Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon “strongly condemned” the draft, dismissing it as an attempt by the Palestinians “to reinvent history.”

“No vote or debate will change the clear reality that Jerusalem has and always will be the capital of Israel,” Danon said in a statement.

The draft resolution calls on all countries to refrain from opening embassies in Jerusalem, reflecting concerns that other governments could follow the US lead.

It demands that all member-states not recognise any actions that are contrary to UN resolutions on the status of the city.

Several UN resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from territory seized during the 1967 war and have reaffirmed the need to end the occupation of that land.

The Palestinians had sought a toughly-worded draft resolution that would have directly called on the US administration to scrap its decision.

But some US allies on the council such as Britain, France, Egypt, Japan and Ukraine were reluctant to be too hard-hitting and insisted that the proposed measure should reaffirm the position enshrined in current resolutions, diplomats said.

Backed by Muslim countries, the Palestinians are expected to turn to the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution rejecting the US decision, if, as expected, the measure is vetoed by the United States at the council.

Aside from the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia can veto any resolution presented at the council, which requires nine votes for adoption.

On Sunday, police estimated the number attending the Jakarta rally, organised by various Muslim groups, at about 80,000.

The protest was peaceful but rows of police behind coils of barbed wire held back the crowd outside the US embassy in Jakarta. A police spokesman said 20,000 police and members of the military were deployed to ensure security.

“We urge all countries to reject the unilateral and illegal decision of President Donald Trump to make Jerusalem Israel’s capital,” Anwar Abbas, the secretary general of the Indonesian ulema council, told the crowd.

“We call on all Indonesian people to boycott US and Israel products in this country” if Trump does not revoked his action, Abbas said, reading from a petition due to be handed to the US ambassador in Indonesia.

Many of the protesters were clad in white and waved Palestinian flags and held up placards, some reading: “Peace, love and free Palestine”.

There have been a series of protests in Indonesia over the issue, including some where hardliners burned US and Israeli flags.

Additional reporting by Reuters