Thursday 13 December 2018

Ireland delivers UN rebuke to Trump over Jerusalem

Decision to recognise city as Israel’s capital condemned

Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, prepares to speak on the floor of the General Assembly. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, prepares to speak on the floor of the General Assembly. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Shona Murray

Ireland reiterated its long-held position on the status of the city of Jerusalem at last night's vote at the UN General Assembly.

In a stinging rebuke to US President Donald Trump, the UN voted 128 to 9, calling Mr Trump's intervention in recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel "null and void".

Ireland's Ambassador to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason, voted in line with the international consensus, which holds that the status of Jerusalem will be decided as part of a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

In an act fused with "ignorance" and facilitated by his characteristic autocratic style, Mr Trump had "opened the door to chaos", according to former Palestinian Ambassador to the EU and Ireland, Leila Shahid.

"Who does he think he is - Nero the Roman Emperor?" she asked.

Ms Shahid said Mr Trump "knows about as much about international politics as I know about the Chinese language. He is doing it for domestic reasons because his presidency is a disaster. It is an earthquake and the only one who doesn't understand is Trump himself.

President Donald Trump. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo
President Donald Trump. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo

"This is going to destroy the rule of international law and who knows what could happen next? If Putin decides to say Kiev is the capital of Russia, what will we say?, this is insane," she told the Irish Independent in Beirut.

Mr Trump vowed to cut funding to any UN member state voting against the US's new policy, sparking criticisms that it was "bullying" other countries.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in Lebanon, meeting with Irish troops deployed under a UN mandate. Ireland has participated in Unifil - UN Interim Force in Lebanon - on a consistent basis since its inception in 1978.

Skirmishes and protests against Mr Trump's statement on Jerusalem have broken out in both Palestine and Israel in recent weeks.

The head of the Lebanese military group Hizbollah (which is listed as a terror group by the EU) has supported calls by Palestinian factions for a resurgence of violence and a "third intifada" or uprising similar to the "second intifada" which lasted from 2000 to 2005. It involved a wave of killing by Palestinian groups regularly deploying suicide bombers.

There are 343 Irish troops serving in Lebanon, all of whom will be spending Christmas there.

They will be defending what could once again become the a central point of confrontation in the Middle East's most emotive and protracted armed conflict and occupation.

In America's threat to 193 countries who dare refuse to "respect" its unravelling of steady UN agreement, Mr Trump has indeed undermined international rule-based behaviour and disrespected the right to national sovereignty.

Ireland's commitment to stand by its conviction over Palestine, as well as its consistent record in keeping the peace in the Middle East under mandates like Unifil, is held in high esteem in places where it serves so much purpose.

"Ireland is a country that means a lot to so many countries, even though the Irish see themselves as small," said Ms Shahid.

Irish Independent