The Zambian representatives to the United Nations (UN) were today absent at a controversial General Assembly emergency session called at the request of Arab and Muslim states to vote on the condemnation of the decision by the United States of America to recognize Jerusalem as the future capital of Israel.
The voting took place after threats by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, that Washington would remember which countries “disrespected” America by voting against it.
The United Nations General Assembly defied warnings from the United States and overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and calling on countries not to move their diplomatic missions to the city.
A total of 128 countries voted in favor of the motion, defying the threats — that were forcefully reiterated in an address before the vote by US envoy Nikki Haley — to cut aid to countries that opposed the motion.
9 countries — the US, Israel, Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Honduras — voted against the resolution.
There were 35 abstentions, including a number of countries that had been widely expected to support the move, such as Colombia, Mexico, Malawi and Rwanda.
Another 21 delegations, including Zambia and Kenya, were absent from the vote.
Yesterday, US president Donald Trump supported his Ambassador’s position to cut aid to countries that would vote against the US position.
“I like the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations for all of these nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council, or they vote against us potentially at the assembly,” the president told members of his cabinet in the White House.
“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us,” he said. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
After the vote the US ambassador to the UN, Haley, defended the administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying the US had the sovereign right to place its embassies where it wished, and warned that America — the biggest funder of the UN — did not take kindly to being disrespected and paying for the “dubious privilege.”
“The decision does not prejudge any final status issues, including Jerusalem’s boundaries. The decision does not preclude a two-state solution, if the parties agree to that,” she said. “The decision does nothing to harm peace efforts. Rather, the president’s decision reflects the will of the American people and our right as a nation to choose the location of our embassy.”
“America will put our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley stressed. “That’s what the American people want us to do. And it’s the right thing to do.” No vote at the UN will make any difference on the American decision, she declared. But this vote will be remembered, she vowed, when America is being asked once again to make the single-largest contribution to the UN budget or 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 resolution, co-sponsored by Turkey and Yemen, called Trump’s recognition “null and void” and reaffirmed 10 security council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
It also “demands that all states comply with security council resolutions regarding the holy city of Jerusalem, and not to recognise any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions”.