Palestinians call for emergency UN meeting on Jerusalem

Members of the UN Security Council raise their hands as they vote on a draft resolution that would reject US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during a meeting on the situation in the Middle East including Palestine on December 18, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2017
0

Palestinians call for emergency UN meeting on Jerusalem

AMMAN/NEW YORK: Palestinian leaders will call for an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly after the US on Monday vetoed a Security Council resolution on the status of Jerusalem.

The veto was “unacceptable and threatens the stability of the international community because it disrespects it,” said Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina.

Palestinians would continue to insist on the rule of international law no matter how many times the US cast its veto, Anees Sweidan, head of the Palestinian international affairs department, told Arab News.

“We will be back in the UN Security Council and we will also go to the General Assembly, where the US has no veto power, in order to insist that no solution can be imposed on Palestinians in regard to our capital, Jerusalem.”

Ziad Khalil AbuZayyad, spokesman for international affairs in the Fatah movement, told Arab News: “The American vision for a peace process doesn’t give Palestinians their rights because it doesn’t include justice or equality. We condemn such actions coming from a world power that considers itself a democracy.”

The resolution followed this month’s decision by the US to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

It stated that “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”

It called on “all states to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city of Jerusalem,” under the terms of a 1980 Security Council resolution. Without naming any country, it expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”

The resolution was sponsored by Egypt, and the other 14 members of the Security Council voted for it, including US allies Britain and France. The depth of support illustrated America’s isolation, Abu Rudein said. “The international community must work now to protect the Palestinian people.”

The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, called the resolution “an insult” that would not be forgotten, and said the UN had forced the US to cast a veto simply because of its right to decide where to put its embassy.

“The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council,” she said.

After the vote, Palestinian leaders held a closed meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas. They are expected to defy the US and apply for the state of Palestine to join about 22 international agencies.


US downgrades Palestinian mission, places it under embassy in Israel

Updated 19 October 2018
0

US downgrades Palestinian mission, places it under embassy in Israel

  • The move will make the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, the main interlocutor with the Palestinian leadership
  • Pro-Israel advocates hailed the decision, saying it confirmed the US recognized the whole of Jerusalem as part of Israel

WASHINGTON: The United States downgraded its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians on Thursday, placing it under the authority of the US embassy to Israel.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the consulate general, a separate office which handled dealings with the Palestinians, would be replaced by a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the controversial new US embassy in Jerusalem.
The move will make the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is reviled by Palestinians over his support for Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the main interlocutor with the Palestinian leadership.
The change, quickly condemned by the Palestinians, follows a series of setbacks for them at the hands of President Donald Trump, who has turned US policy sharply toward Israel.
Pro-Israel advocates hailed the decision, saying it confirmed the US recognized the whole of Jerusalem as part of Israel.
“This decision is driven by our global efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. It does not signal a change of US policy,” Pompeo said in a statement.
He said the United States “continues to take no position” on how any peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians would take shape.
The Palestinian leadership rejected Pompeo’s “efficiency” explanation.
The decision has “a lot to do with pleasing an ideological US team that is willing to disband the foundations of American foreign policy, and of the international system, in order to reward Israeli violations and crimes,” the Palestinians’ chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
“The Trump administration is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” he added.
International powers have for decades maintained separate and autonomous representations to Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of supporting the eventual creation of an independent Palestinian state.
They have insisted that the status of Jerusalem, which both the Israelis and Palestinians see as their capital, should be negotiated between the parties as part of any end deal.
Last December, Trump reversed longstanding US policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, prompting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to boycott his administration.
The embassy was officially transferred on May 14.
Since then, the Trump administration has forced the Palestinians to shutter their Washington mission and has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, in a bid to force them to the negotiating table.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, alongside Friedman and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, has been working for months on a still-secret peace proposal, which Palestinians fear will be overly one-sided toward Israel.
The move Thursday nearly closes off all direct diplomatic contacts between the United States and the Palestinians, analysts said.
Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group think-tank said the US would be the only major power without a separate, independent representative office for the Palestinians.
“Other countries have gone to great lengths to avoid having the same representatives to Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” he told AFP.
Robert Danin, a former senior US government official dealing with Israeli-Palestinian issues, said the move was a victory for “hard right partisans” who have sought to eliminate the Palestinian-focused consulate general “for decades.”
The consulate general “is THE eyes and ears into Palestinian politics and society. Its independence from US Embassy Israel provided Washington w/solid, unvarnished reporting and analysis,” he said on Twitter.
But Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor with the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum and advocate for the embassy move, said the decision was more evidence the US considered Jerusalem to be fully part of Israel.
“This step confirms that the US recognizes the entire city as Israel’s capital,” he said.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert defended the move, saying the new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the embassy would maintain contacts with Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem at the same level as before the change.
“We value our relationship with the Palestinian people. We look forward to continued partnership and dialogue with them and, we hope in future, with the Palestinian leadership,” she said via Twitter.