New York City, USA : Despite threats from U.S. President Donald Trump, 128 countries in the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, voted in favour of a Turkey and Yemen sponsored resolution condemning USA’s Jerusalem decision and only 9 countries opposed it. The resolution asks the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Thursday, as the US threatened cuts in retaliation.
Applause erupted in the General Assembly hall as the vote was adopted with 128 countries in favour, nine against and 35 abstentions.
Australia, Canada, Mexico and the Philippines were among those who abstained in the emergency vote called by Turkey and Yemen after the US vetoed the same resolution in the UN Security Council earlier this week.
The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, reiterated threats to cut financial support to the United Nations or those who support criticism of the US ahead of the vote.
“We’ll be honest with you – when we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is respected,” Haley said.
“We do this in part in order to advance our values and our interests,” and if US funds are being “poorly spent,” the US has an obligation to “spend our resources in more productive ways,” Haley said.
Haley had warned earlier in the week that the “US will be taking names” of those who vote against her country and that the president would “take this vote personally.”
“We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot,” US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, noting that the country gives billions in assistance.
In a blunt response to the results of the vote, Haley warned the international body that the U.S. would remember the betrayal by the U.N., and that the vote would do nothing to affect the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there.
“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do,” she said ahead of the vote. “No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote will make a difference in how Americans view the U.N.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said the resolution was “not because of any animosity towards the United States,” but a reaction to the “aggression” of Trump’s decision to move the US embassy.
Turkey’s UN ambassador, Mevlut Cavusoglu, called Trump’s comments ahead of the vote “bullying” and said the US was mistaken “to think the words and dignity of member states are for sale.”
He echoed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has emerged as a staunch supporter of the Palestinians and sharp critic of Trump on the Jerusalem issue.
Erdogan shot back at Trump on Thursday, saying Washington could not buy people’s free will.
“Mr Trump, you cannot buy the democratic will of Turkey with your dollars,” Erdogan said. “And I appeal to the entire world. … Never sell your will for petty dollars in your struggle for democracy.”
Saying that the US was known as the “cradle of democracy,” Erdogan added: “The world will teach America at this point a very good lesson.”
Turkey and Yemen, representing Muslim and Arab nations, brought the resolution to the UN’s General Assembly after the US vetoed it in the Security Council.
The resolution does not mention the US by name but generally expresses regret over recent decisions affecting Jerusalem.
Palestinian officials say it is clear the US is the target of the wording.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier said he “rejects this vote out of hand,” attacking the UN as “The House of Lies.”
“The attitude toward Israel from many states on all continents is changing outside the walls of the United Nations and that will eventually seep into the walls of the UN house – The House of Lies,” Netanyahu said at an event in Ashdod.
The status of Jerusalem has been one of the most sensitive and explosive issues in the decades-long conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Israel has long claimed Jerusalem as its “undivided capital,” while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.
Israel occupied the eastern half of Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and later annexed the territory in a move that was not internationally recognized.
More than 300,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, which is home to holy sites for Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
Trump’s decision earlier this month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was widely condemned by other world leaders, particularly in Arab and Muslim-majority countries, who warned that the move threatened to undermine stability in the region.