AntiWar.com & Al Jazeera & Rebecca Savransky / The Hill – 2017-12-09 00:47:07
UN Security Council Members
Condemn Trump’s Jerusalem Move
Haley Says Meeting Proves Anti-Israel Bias
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 8, 2017) — US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley sees Friday’s emergency meeting on President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration as vindication of decades of US claims that the UN is inherently biased against Israel.
Yet while Israel was the topic, at least tangentially, the real focus of the meeting was on Trump himself, and what pretty much everyone else in the Security Council agreed was a reckless unilateral declaration that Jerusalem, a contested city under partial military occupation, is the capital of Israel.
Trump’s declaration has been roundly criticized worldwide, with Israel seemingly the only nation to endorse it. Even there, the declaration sparked massive protests among the Palestinian population under Israeli occupation, who see Trump’s move as effectively ending the peace process and certainly ending the pretense that the United States can be an impartial arbiter.
The UN members broadly agreed that the US move undermines the peace process, with Egypt warning the move would ignite anger across the Muslim and Arab world, and Jordan adding that there needs to be an assurance that freedom of religious practice is upheld within Jerusalem.
Haley insisted Trump’s declaration was just “common sense,” because Israel sees Jerusalem as their own capital and has all their government buildings there. It’s clearly not so “common,” however, since literally nobody in the world recognizes Jerusalem in that way, and while a number of nations have consulates in Jerusalem, embassies are exclusively in Tel Aviv.
Trump’s Jerusalem Move
Roundly Condemned at United Nations
During an emergency meeting, UN Security Council members widely condemned Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that has led to deadly clashes across the occupied Palestinian territories.
Eight countries called for the emergency meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday, as Palestinians protested across the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip against the US president’s decision throughout the day.
Several countries resoundly condemned the unilateral move by the US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
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.
Here is a look at what was said during the emergency session:
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said Jerusalem “is perhaps the most emotionally charged and difficult subject” among the final status issues in the conflict.
“The United Nations has repeatedly declared that any unilateral decision that seeks to alter the character and status of Jerusalem or that may alter these long-standing principles could seriously undermine current peace efforts and may have repercussions across the region,” Mladenov said.
He added that he was “particularly concerned about the potential risk of a violent escalation” in response to the US decision.
Mladenov said the world was standing at a “critical moment in the long-running history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
Palestine: Rewarding ‘Israel’s impunity’
Riyad Mansour, the ambassador and permanent observer of Palestine at the UN, said the Trump administration has violated “Jerusalem’s legal, political and historic status and the Palestinian peoples’ rights and legitimate national aspirations”.
“The extremely regrettable announcement . . . has heightened tensions and risks the complete destabilisation of this volatile situation,” Mansour said.
He said the US decision “to reward Israel’s impunity” should disqualify it from any leadership role in efforts to reach a solution to the conflict.
The US decision does not change the tenets of international law and previous UN resolutions which state that Israel must end its occupation of East Jerusalem, Mansour said. “The status of Jerusalem cannot be unilaterally altered or determined by any state and this decision by the US should be reconsidered and rescinded,” he said.
He called on the UNSC to condemn the US decision, adding that “there can be no just and lasting solution to the Palestine question without a just solution to the question of Jerusalem. Jerusalem has long been the heart of Palestine and always will be.”
Israel: ‘A Milestone for Peace’
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, took a decidedly different tone, saying Trump’s decision “marks a milestone for Israel, for peace and for the world”.
“The United States has the courage and true understanding of justice to officially state what has always been known: that Jerusalem has and always will be the capital of Israel,” said Danon. “The embassy of the United States belongs in Israel’s capital.”
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.
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. The settlements are illegal under international law.
Despite this, Danon called on all states to “recognise Israel’s connection to Jerusalem” and to move their embassies to the city.
“We are grateful to the United States for its courageous decision. We call on all the nations of the world to join us this year in Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel,” he said.
US: UN ‘Biased’ Against Israel
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, resoundly rejected the criticism from other countries at the meeting. She said it was “simple common sense that foreign embassies be located” in Jerusalem, which is home to Israel’s parliament, several government ministries, and its president and prime minister.
She said with its decision, the US has not taken a position on boundaries or borders; it has not advocated for any change in the administration around holy sites in Jerusalem; and it has not predetermined final status issues. “We remain committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement. We support a two-state solution if agreed to by the parties,” she said.
Haley accused the UN “over many years the United Nations has outrageously been one of the world’s foremost centres of hostility towards Israel”.
“The UN has done much more damage to the prospects of Middle East peace than to advance them.”
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. However Hanna said 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.
Jordan: Religious Freedom Must Be Upheld
Jordan, which acts as the custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, said it “rejected” the US decision as a violation of international law.
“The kingdom believes that any unilateral decisions to build a new situation on the ground are null and void,” said Sima Bahous, the country’s representative at the UN.
Bahous said the decision may exacerbate tension, provoke strong emotions and lead to confrontations between people of different religions in the city. She said it could “even jeopardise the final status outcome” in the conflict.
The status of Jerusalem is a final status issue, Bahous reaffirmed, and East Jerusalem must be recognised as the capital of a Palestinian state.
“There will be no security or stability without a settlement bringing justice to the Palestinian people,” she said. “The protection of Jerusalem and its holy places for all religions” must be a priority, Bahous added.
Egypt: No Ompact on Jerusalem’s Legal Status
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.”
Aboulatta added the decision sets a “dangerous precedent”.
“Egypt will always uphold its pledge to reach a fair, just and durable peace in the region,” he said.
UK: Two-state Solution the ‘Only Way’
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.
Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states, Rycroft said, and its status must come out of a negotiated settlement between both parties.
“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. Rycroft called on the US to release detailed proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
France: US Must Explain
How Decision Aligns with Law
Francois Delattre, French ambassador to the UN, said France’s position was guided by three elements. The status of Jerusalem must be determined after a negotiated settlement and “France recognises no sovereignty over Jerusalem”, Delattre said.
He said the historic and religious significance of the city makes it “key” to the resolution of the conflict and to regional stability more broadly. “It is critical to duly seek to provide to pretexts for radical movements in the region and on the contrary, to encourage all statesmen and actors for peace.”
Jerusalem is to become a capital of two states, Delattre said. “There is no alternative to a two-state solution, nor is there a two-state solution without an agreement among the parties on Jerusalem.”
Sweden: Violation of UN Resolutions
Olof Skoog, Sweden’s UN ambassador, said it called the UN meeting “due to the repercussions” that the Trump administration’s move will have. “We clearly disagree with the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Skoog said.
The decision is fuelling tension and instability in the region, he said, and goes against both international law and UNSC resolutions.
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.
Russia: US Decision Met with ‘Serious Concern’
“In Moscow, the decision announced in Washington was greeted with serious concern,” said Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN. He said international law and UN resolutions must serve as the basis of a settlement to the longstanding conflict.
“The sensitive question of Jerusalem”, Nebenzya said, must be resolved “through the course of direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations”.
He added that Russia is worried that the US position on Jerusalem may further complicate relations between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as impact the wider region. “We call on all parties involved to exercise restraint and to refrain from actions that may have dangerous consequences,” he said.
Japan: Jerusalem’s Status Must Be Decided Through Talks
“Japan’s position remains unchanged,” said Koro Bessho, the UN ambassador, in that it supports a two-state solution to the conflict based on international law and UN resolutions. The status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations, he said.
Bessho said he welcomes the US statement that it still supports the two-state solution. “Japan is deeply worried by the heightening tension on the ground,” Bessho added.
Palestinians Warn of Escalating Protests over Jerusalem
(December 7, 2017) — Clashes erupted across the West Bank, in East Jerusalem and along the Gaza Strip’s border fence with Israel on Thursday as Palestinians seethed over US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and intention of moving the US embassy there.
More than 31 Palestinians were reported wounded by live fire or rubber-coated metal bullets in the clashes with Israeli forces, a mere foretaste of what is expected after Friday prayers. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new intifada uprising to begin Friday.
“Tomorrow should be a day of rage and the start of a major attempt to rise up which I will name the intifada of the liberation of Jerusalem and the West Bank,” he said in a televised speech. Just as Palestinian resistance had liberated Gaza from the Israeli army, Palestinians could free Jerusalem, he said.
“We have given instructions to all Hamas members and to all its wings to be fully ready for any new instructions or orders that may be given to confront this strategic danger that threatens Jerusalem and Palestine.”
“United Jerusalem is Arab and Muslim and it is the capital of the state of Palestine, all Palestine,” he said.
In the West Bank cities of Hebron and Al-Bireh, thousands of demonstrators rallied with chants of “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine”, witnesses said.
The UAE expressed its deep regret and condemnation at the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation statement yesterday said that such unilateral decisions were contrary to legitimate international resolutions and will not change the legal status of the holy city as being under occupation.
“[The decision] is a complete defiance of the historic and permanent rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, guaranteed by the relevant international resolutions and recognised by the international community.”
Mr Trump’s decision, which reversed seven decades of US policy, was seen by Palestinians as cementing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, which they cherish as the capital of their future state.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem, with its sites holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and then annexed it in violation of international law. Jewish nationalists cite ancient Biblical ties to the area that they believe supercede Palestinian claims, and are mounting a settlement drive to, in their view, reclaim their ancient capital. They see Mr Trump’s move and a historic endorsement of their view.
The White House said on Thursday it was not aware of any other country that planned to follow President Trump’s lead and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“I’m not aware of any countries that we anticipate that happening at any point soon,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. “I’m not saying that they aren’t, but I’m not aware of them.”
Jawad Siyam, a grass-roots leader in the Silwan neighbourhood beneath Al Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, said: “Trump is showing the ugly face of the USA, supporting the occupation and ignoring the rights of the Palestinians and Christians and Muslims in the city.”
The US has warned Palestinians against cancelling talks with Vice-President Mike Pence, after Washington recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It would be “counterproductive” to scrap talks between Mr. Pence and Palestinian President, the US said.
A senior Palestinian official warned Mr. Pence would not be welcome.
Among the focal points of clashes were Tulkarem and Qalqilya in the northern West Bank, Al Bireh in its central sector, and Bethlehem in the south. According to the Gaza ministry of health, seven Palestinians were wounded, one of them seriously in clashes east of Khan Younis. In Jerusalem, three Palestinians were arrested as security forces broke up a demonstration near Damascus Gate.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas meanwhile held talks in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah to co-ordinate a response to the American move. The leaders said Mr. Trump’s decision was violation of international law and warned that tampering with the status of Jerusalem would only create more tension and violence.
Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that other countries have been in touch with Israel about moving their embassies to Jerusalem. “Trump has tied himself eternally to the history of our capital. His name will be held aloft withthose of others who made the history of Jerusalem,” he said.
The Israeli tourism minister, Yariv Levin, said that Mr. Trump had given Israel the green light for rejecting a two-state solution by making it conditional in his announcement on the two sides approving of it. “This means that as long as Israel does not want this solution, it won’t come about,” he said.
Mr. Siyam predicted that the protests would keep intensifying in the days ahead. Asked what he expected for Friday, he replied: “The Palestinians will go out in peaceful protests but they will turn into clashes because the Israelis won’t allow any protests. Day by day there will be more and more.
“If the political leaders keep up this level of speech it will continue and they won’t be able to control things like during the second intifada. I think this will go out of control.”
He said Mr. Trump’s move was devastating. “A hundred years after the Balfour Declaration came the Trump declaration, which is very similar.”
Talal Awkal, a Gaza City-based columnist for Al Ayyam newspaper, also predicted sustained unrest, recalling how the installation of metal detectors by Israel at entrances to Al Aqsa mosque had fuelled protests in July.
“We have to remember that when Israel installed the metal detectors there was a kind of intifada. Now we are talking about all of Jerusalem, so what do you expect? The Palestinians can no more be calm waiting for solutions from the US and Israel.”
Awkal said he expected “a popular intifada in which people go into the streets and resist settlers and the army across the West Bank and on the borders of the Gaza Strip. There will be a lot of clashes but without [Palestinian] armaments.”
In his speech in Washington on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he had decided to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and would begin the process of moving the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
That night, the Palestinian ministry for endowments and religious affairs turned off the lights of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City in protest against the announcement, while Christian Palestinians in the West Bank city of Bethlehem switched off the lights on the Christmas tree outside the Church of the Nativity.
The leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hizbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, supported calls for a Palestinian intifada but did not threaten military action by his group over what he called “undisguised American aggression”.
Instead, he called for protests on the streets, on social media and at diplomatic levels by Arab and Muslim nations to force Mr Trump to reverse his decision, Associated Press reported.
The US move also provoked demonstrations in cities across Pakistan. Associated Press said hundreds of Islamists staged anti-US rallies in the capital, Islamabad, and in Karachi, Peshawar, and Multan, although no violence was reported.
The Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab militant group in Somalia, which has been increasingly targeted by US air strikes, said Mr, Trump’s decision was “evidence of an escalation in its aggression against Islam and Muslims”, Associated Press reported, quoting a statement from the group’s news agency.
* Experts react to Trumpâ€™s Jerusalem decision: A diplomatic upgrade or end of the peace process?
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* Beyond the Headlines: GCC summit and Trump’s Jerusalem announcement
Jimmy Carter: Jerusalem Decision
Could Jeopardize ‘Any Prospect for Peace’
Rebecca Savransky / The Hill
(December 8, 2017) — Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “exacerbates tensions” and “jeopardizes any prospect for peace” in the Middle East.
“This fundamental shift in decades-old US policy exacerbates tensions throughout the Arab and Muslim world, but we hope that protests can remain nonviolent,” Carter said in a statement.
“Any change to the status of the city without the consent of the Palestinians jeopardizes any prospect for peace,” he said. “East Jerusalem is a linchpin of Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own.”
In a speech Wednesday, Trump said he has determined it is “time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” Trump has vowed to broker a historic peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians.
Trump argued Wednesday that past administrations’ approaches, such as delaying the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city and moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, have not worked.
“It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result,” he said. He called his announcement “a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and work towards a lasting agreement.”
Carter has previously criticized Trump for his policies. Last month, he blasted Trump’s efforts to undermine ObamaCare, saying the White House is “leading the health care debate into treacherous waters.”
In October, Carter said he is open to working with Trump to solve the growing tensions between the US and North Korea.
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