UN convenes emergency meeting on US’ Jerusalem decision

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The UN Security Council has convened an emergency session to discuss Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that has led to deadly clashes in Palestine and strong condemnation from world leaders.

Eight countries called for the emergency meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday, as Palestinians protested across the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip against the US president’s decision throughout the day.

Several countries resoundly condemned the US’ unilateral move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including Olof Skoog, Sweden’s UN ambassador, who said the decision is fuelling tension and instability in the region.

Trump’s declaration “goes against the plea of many friends of the US and Israel, however it does not affect the position of Sweden, the European Union or the wider international community” on the status of Jerusalem, said Skoog.

Trump, ignoring warnings from the international community, announced on Wednesday that the US was formally recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and would begin the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel says Jerusalem, which is under Israeli occupation, cannot be divided.

The international community has never recognised Israel’s claim to the entire city.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, resoundly rejected the criticism from other countries at the meeting, however.

She said with its decision, the US is not advocating for any change in the administration around holy sites in Jerusalem and wants the status quo to remain in place in the city.

“I urge all countries in the Security Council and the Middle East to temper their statements and their actions in the days ahead,” Haley said.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from the UN headquarters, said Haley delivered “a very strong criticism of the United Nations, which she claims has historically been biased against Israel”.

“Clearly the ambassador is feeling that the best form of defence, is attack,” Hanna said.

Egypt ‘denounces’ move

Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, Egypt’s UN ambassador, said Egypt “denounces” the US decision on Jerusalem, which he said could “ignite [anger among] Muslim and Arab peoples”.

“Such unilateral decisions are a violation of international legitimacy and thus it has no impact on the legal status of the city of Jerusalem since it is a city under occupation,” Aboulatta said.

“It is not permissible legally to take any action that would alter the status quo in the city.”

Israel took control of West Jerusalem after the state was created in 1948.

It occupied East Jerusalem after the 1967 war and annexed the eastern portion of the city in 1980 in a move that remains unrecognised by the international community.

Since 1967, Israel has built several Jewish-only settlements around and inside key parts of East Jerusalem in an effort to cement its control over the entire city.

Negotiations backed

Matthew Rycroft, the UN ambassador representing the UK, said the British embassy is in Tel Aviv “and we have no plans to move it”.

He said the UK sought to reaffirm its “strong support” for peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and the two-state solution.

“This is the only way to ensure the long-term security that Israelis deserve and the statehood and end to the occupation that Palestinians are calling out for,” Rycroft said.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna said while Rycroft condemned Trump’s unilateral move, “he said he welcomed President Trump’s commitment to the two-state solution”.

“So the UK at least trying to take some kind of hope or some kind of traction out of what has been a diplomatic disaster for many members of the United Nations,” he said.

Hanna reported that many of the speakers made it clear “that the US has directly flouted what has been decades of UN position that the final status of Jerusalem must be decided by the parties at the end of a negotiated process” between Israelis and Palestinians.


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