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United Nations

Donald Trump threatens to cut aid to countries opposing US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke with international consensus, triggering protests across the Muslim world

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 5:40am

Donald Trump has threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars of US aid from countries which vote in favour of a United Nations resolution rejecting the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel .

His comments came after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley warned member states that she will be “taking names” of countries that vote for a general assembly resolution on Thursday critical of the announcement which overturned decades of US foreign policy.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump said: “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”

The warning appeared aimed largely at UN members from poorer nations in Africa and Asia who are regarded as more vulnerable to US pressure.

Haley, has warned UN members she will be “taking names” of countries that vote to reject Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In a letter, Haley told countries – including European delegations – that she will report back to the US president with the names of those who support a draft resolution rejecting the US move at the UN general assembly on Thursday, adding that Trump took the issue personally.

Haley writes: “As you consider your vote, I encourage you to know the president and the US take this vote personally.

“The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those who voted against us,” she continued.

Haley followed the letter by tweeting: “At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticising our choice. The US will be taking names.”

The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those who voted against us
Nikki Haley

The Trump administration’s heavy-handed approach to foreign policy – often in breach of both international consensus and diplomatic niceties – has alienated even close allies.

The 193-member UN general assembly – which has no vetoes – will hold an emergency session on Thursday to vote on the proposed measure that the US vetoed at the Security Council earlier this week.

There was fury in Washington over Monday’s vote, in which the US isolated in a 14-1 vote requesting Trump withdraw his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to Haaretz, Israel has sent instructions to its own diplomatic missions ordering ambassadors to seek meetings with officials to persuade them to direct their representatives at the UN to oppose the draft resolution at the general assembly and ask them not to make speeches.

A copy of the draft resolution calls on the general assembly to declare the US move “null and void”.

It also demands that countries avoid any “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem” and calls “upon all states” comply with existing “Security Council resolutions”.

The UN general assembly meeting was requested by Turkey and Yemen on behalf of the Arab group of countries and the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The two countries circulated the draft resolution on Tuesday that mirrors the vetoed measure Egypt had put forward the draft at the Security Council meeting, which was backed by all other members apart from the US.

The Palestinian ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said he expected “overwhelming support” for the measure stating that Jerusalem was an issue “to be resolved through negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The general assembly will say, without the fear of the veto, that the international community is refusing to accept the unilateral position of the United States,” Mansour told reporters.

On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticising our choice. The US will be taking names
Nikki Haley

Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke with international consensus, triggering protests across the Muslim world and drawing strong condemnation. Key US allies Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Ukraine were among the 14 countries in the 15-member council that voted in favour of rejecting the move.

After that vote, Haley described the 14-1 vote as “an insult” and warned “it won’t be forgotten”.

After the clash at the top UN body, the White House announced that the US Vice-President, Mike Pence, was delaying a trip to the Middle East planned for this week.

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

Several UN resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from territory seized during the 1967 war.

The vote in the emergency session of the general assembly follows an annual vote on Tuesday where members voted 176-7 to affirm the Palestinian right to self-determination, suggesting the level of support the draft resolution could potentially command on Thursday.