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Ireland one of 128 nations to reject US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital

US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned the General Assembly that the United States “will remember this day.”

A display shows the results of voting by the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York
A display shows the results of voting by the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

IRELAND IS ONE of the 128 countries to approve a motion rejecting the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Defying President Donald Trump’s threat to cut off funding to nation’s that opposed the motion, the 193-member United Nations General Assembly adopted the motion by 128 to nine with 35 abstentions.

In what the Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour called a “massive setback” for the United States, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel reject the decision of the UN.

Along with the US, other countries to oppose the motion was Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.

The countries that abstained were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Romania and Rwanda.

‘Remember this day’

Speaking ahead of the emergency session, US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned the General Assembly that the United States “will remember this day.”

“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem,” Haley said in defense of the US move, which broke with international consensus and unleashed protests across the Muslim world.

“No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that,” Haley said.

“But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.”

NY: Debate Before UN General Assembly Vote on Resolution Regarding President Trump's Jerusalem decision. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

“When we make generous contributions to the UN we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognized and respected,” she said.

The resolution reaffirms that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations, and that any decision reached outside of that framework must be rescinded.

Without explicitly referencing the US move, it “affirms that 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 in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

Trump’s decision on 6 December to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital prompted a flurry of appeals to the United Nations.

The status of the Holy City is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming it as their capital.

Trump warned that Washington would closely watch how nations voted, suggesting, like Haley, there could be financial reprisals for those that back the motion put forward by Yemen and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries.

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump said at the White House.

“Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

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‘Differing views’

In a statement this evening seen by RTÉ, the Department of Foreign Affairs said:

Ireland voted today in favour of a resolution in the UN General Assembly on Jerusalem. This vote was in line with our established position on this issue. The vast majority of our EU partners voted in the same way…
Ireland and the US share many core values, but there are occasionally issues on which we have different views. The status of Jerusalem is one such issue.
We have no difficulty with our partners and friends having strong views and expressing them robustly, notwithstanding the fact that we may take a different view, as we do in this case.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney was highly critical of the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling it “premature and ill-advised” earlier this month.

Coveney said the move was “unhelpful to efforts to reach a resolution of the Middle East peace process, something which is very urgently needed”.

The Cork TD said he contacted the US Embassy directly earlier this month “to express Ireland’s strong concerns and to urge USA not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s a capital this week”.

He told this week the issue is ”something he is very concerned about”.

Coveney said while the US decision made progression within the peace process more difficult it did not mean that nations should stop trying.

“We are very serious in Ireland about trying to play a constructive and relevant political role there,” he said. To show Ireland’s commitment to the peace process in the middle east and Africa, Coveney will travel to Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Cairo in January.

© AFP 2017 

With reporting by Christina Finn 

Read: Protests erupt in Palestine in response to Trump’s Jerusalem decision>

Read: Violence worsens in Israel as thousands clash in response to Trump’s Jerusalem decision>

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