Saturday 18 August 2018

US 'bullies' UN diplomats over Jerusalem decision

A Palestinian protester during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Photo: Goran Tomasevic
A Palestinian protester during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Photo: Goran Tomasevic

Harriet Alexander

The US ambassador to the UN has said she is "taking names" of the countries that vote against America in a meeting called to censure President Donald Trump's decision on Jerusalem.

Today, the general assembly of the United Nations will hold a highly unusual emergency session, to vote on Mr Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Only 10 such emergency sessions have been convened since 1950, and the last time was in 2009, to discuss occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian territories.

The vote to condemn Mr Trump's decision is expected to pass by a wide margin, but Nikki Haley tweeted on Tuesday night that the US would take careful note of which countries voted against them.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley

"At the UN we're always asked to do more and give more," she said.

"So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American people, about where to locate our embassy, we don't expect those we have helped to target us.

"On Thursday there'll be a vote criticising our choice. The US will be taking names."

She has also sent a letter to fellow UN ambassadors, including "key US allies" such as Britain, warning that "the president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us.

"We will take note of each and every vote on this issue."

Diplomatic sources said that the letter would not change their vote, although the "bullying" might force some members of the general assembly to abstain, or stay away.

One diplomat told Bloomberg News that his country's mission was told that its vote on the resolution would be taken "personally" by Ms Haley.

The vote comes after the US was forced on Monday to use its veto at the Security Council for the first time in six years, to block a resolution asking countries not to establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

The vote reflected widespread criticism in the Middle East and among US allies in Europe over Mr Trump's December 6 announcement.

Ms Haley said in a letter to many of the UN's 193 member states that the Trump administration was "simply asking that you acknowledge the historical friendship, partnership, and support we have extended, and respect our decision about our own embassy".

The letter drew sharp criticism from both the Turkish and Palestinian foreign ministers, who accused the US of intimidation.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki and Turkey's Mevlut Cavusoglu, who are travelling to New York for today's vote on the non-binding resolution, said that they believe UN member countries will ignore the "pressure" from Ms Haley.

While Mr Trump cast his move as an effort to help promote Middle East peace, most countries have said that it would only make peace more elusive.

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives gave its final approval yesterday to the biggest overhaul of the US tax code in 30 years, sending a sweeping $1.5 trillion (€1.25 trillion) bill to Mr Trump, for his signature.

In sealing Mr Trump's first major legislative victory, Republicans steamrolled opposition from Democrats to pass a bill that will slash taxes for both corporations and the wealthy, while also giving mixed, temporary tax relief to middle-class Americans.

The House approved the measure 224-201, passing it for the second time in two days after a procedural foul-up that had forced another vote yesterday.

The Senate had passed it 51-48 in the early hours of yesterday.

Mr Trump had emphasised a tax cut for middle-class Americans during his 2016 presidential campaign.

At the beginning of a cabinet meeting yesterday, he said that lowering the corporate tax rate from 35pc to 21pc was "probably the biggest factor in this plan".

Irish Independent

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