Jamaica Gleaner / UNITED NATIONS (AP):
Jamaica is among 35 countries that abstained from the vote at the UN General Assembly on Thursday on a non-binding resolution declaring as “null and void”, President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
However, 128 other countries voted in favour of the resolution and nine against.
The vote was a victory for Palestinians though many of their supporters were predicting at least 150 “yes” votes or more.
In the meantime, the Palestinians have rebuked the Trump administration which is threatening to cut funding for those who voted “yes”.
The Trump administration launched a massive lobbying campaign, which included letters sent from US Ambassador Nikki Haley to over 180 countries warning that the US would be taking names of those who voted against Trump’s decision.
But when it came to the vote, major US aid recipients including Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq ignored Trump’s threat and supported the resolution.
The nine countries voting “no” were the US, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Togo. Among the notable abstentions were Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Mexico.
It is also noteworthy that 21 of the 193 UN member states were absent for the vote including Kenya, Georgia and Ukraine which have close US ties.
Trump’s threat to cut off US aid raised the stakes in Thursday’s UN vote and sparked criticism at his tactics, which one Muslim group called bullying or blackmail.
At the start of the emergency General Assembly meeting ahead of the vote, representatives of Arab, Islamic and non-aligned nations rejected his threat and urged a “yes” vote against the US unilateral decision on Jerusalem.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who flew to New York for the meeting, called the US action “an aggression on the status of Jerusalem” and said “those who want peace must vote for peace today.”
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that Americans are tired of being taken advantage of by countries that take hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars, and then vote against the United States. He said he will be watching Thursday’s vote: “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
Haley echoed his words in her speech to the packed assembly chamber, threatening not only the 193 UN member states with funding cuts, but the United Nations itself if the world body approves the resolution declaring Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem “null and void.”
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very right of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” she said.