The world backs Palestine over status of Jerusalem

The results of the vote on Jerusalem are seen on a display board at the General Assembly hall, on December 21, 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP)
Updated 22 December 2017
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The world backs Palestine over status of Jerusalem

NEW YORK/AMMAN: Palestinian leaders claimed a diplomatic victory on Thursday after the UN voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution critical of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In a rare emergency session of the General Assembly, 128 countries voted to call on the US to rescind its December 6 decision. Nine voted against, and 35 abstained. 

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the result a “victory for Palestine,” and UN envoy Riyad Mansour described the vote as impressive. “I am happy with the result, despite all the pressure that was placed on UN member states not to support this resolution,” he told Arab News

The Palestinian ambassador to the US, Husam Zomlot, told Arab News the credibility of the UN had been at stake. “Today’s vote was more about the status of the international system and law than the status of Jerusalem,” he said.

The result of the vote is “something the Palestinians should be proud of, especially the diplomatic corps … who work diligently to secure such a vote,” Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, told Arab News.

“The vote is a triumph for the Palestinians, and will put more pressure on us to get the formal recognition of the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as the capital.


“We have to try now to get the countries that do not recognize Palestine to do so, and I think that will be our basic endeavor now.”

Before the vote, Israel and the US conducted a lobbying campaign to persuade UN members states to vote against the resolution, including a threat to withdraw US aid from countries that did so. 

Nevertheless, many Western and Arab allies of the US voted for the resolution. Some who did so, such as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, are major recipients of US military or economic aid,

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, also pointed out that Washington was the biggest single contributor to the organization’s funds.

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” she told delegates during the debate on the resolution.

“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations, and so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

However, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the assembly that the “Palestinian cause is still our cause,” and rejected attempts to influence the vote.

“Before this meeting, a UN member state threatened all the other members. We were all asked to vote ‘No,’ or face the consequences. Some are even threatened with development aid cuts. Such an attitude is unacceptable,” Cavusoglu said.

“We will not be intimidated. You can be strong, but this does not make you right.”

Thursday’s resolution on the status of Jerusalem was drafted by Turkey and Yemen. The US vetoed a similar resolution on Monday in the 15-member UN Security Council.

In that vote, the other 14 Security Council members supported an Egyptian resolution that expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”

The US also plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The UN resolution calls on all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

Under a 1950 resolution, an emergency General Assembly special session can be called “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures” if the Security Council cannot agree.

Only 10 such sessions have been convened. The last time the General Assembly met in these circumstances was in 2009 on occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian territories. The vote is non-binding, but carries political weight.
 


Moon says Kim agreed to allow nuke inspections

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose after signing documents in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2018
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Moon says Kim agreed to allow nuke inspections

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have started their second day of summit talks in Pyongyang over the nuclear standoff and other inter-Korean issues
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has greeted South Korean President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival in Pyongyang for their third summit this year to improve ties and help resolve the nuclear standoff

SEOUL: North Korea has agreed to “permanently” abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, and is willing to close its main nuclear complex if the United States takes reciprocal action, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a joint news conference following their summit talks in Pyongyang, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said they agreed to turn the Korean peninsula into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”
Kim said he will visit Seoul in the near future, in what would be the first-ever visit to the South’s capital by a North Korean leader.
The latest summit will be a litmus test for stalled negotiations on the North’s nuclear program between Pyongyang and Washington, and for another meeting Kim recently proposed to US President Donald Trump following their historic encounter in June in Singapore.
Moon was seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a framework for the North’s denuclearization and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim pledged to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” during his first encounter with Moon, and at his summit with Trump in June.
But discussions over how to implement the vague commitments have since faltered, with Washington demanding concrete action toward denuclearization by North Korea before agreeing to a key goal of Pyongyang — declaring an end to the war.
North Korea has given no indication it is willing to give up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally and is seeking relief from crippling international sanctions.
North Korea has offered to stop nuclear and missile tests but did not allowed international inspections for a dismantlemnt of its only known nuclear site in May, drawing criticism that its action could not be verified and could be easily reversed.

ART TOUR
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing on Tuesday that Washington hoped the latest inter-Korean summit would bring about “meaningful, verifiable steps toward the denuclearization of North Korea” and called it a “historic opportunity” for Kim to follow through on commitments he made with Trump.
Later on Wednesday, Moon’s delegation will tour the Mansudae Art Studio, the North’s largest producer of art where state artists build statues and produce propaganda at a sprawling complex in Pyongyang.
The institution was sanctioned by the UN Security Council last year as part of global efforts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs by drying up its revenue sources.
Moon is also scheduled to watch the North’s signature “Brilliant Fatherland” Mass Game which was reintroduced this year following a five-year hiatus, with a formation of glowing drones, lasers and stadium-sized gymnastics shows designed to glorify the country.
The United States is pressing countries to strictly observe international sanctions, which will likely be a key theme when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosts a Security Council meeting on North Korea on Sept. 27 on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.

“NEW ERA“
This week’s summit is intended to craft concrete steps to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, named after the border village where they first met, Seoul officials said.
The two Koreas also adopted a separate military accord aimed at preventing armed clashes between the old foes, which are technically still at war because the Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
The neighbors have already agreed to withdraw some guard posts and equipment, in a bid to transform the world’s most heavily fortified border into a no-weapons area.
Pyongyang says it has destroyed its main nuclear and missile engine test site, and has halted atomic and ballistic missile tests, but US officials and analysts believe it is continuing to work on its weapons plans clandestinely.
South Korea is pinning high hopes on Kim’s remarks to Moon’s special envoys earlier this month that he wanted to achieve denuclearization within Trump’s first term in office ending in early 2021. Kim at the same time also stressed Washington must reciprocate his initial “goodwill” gestures.
“While Moon has expressed his desire to agree on a concrete plan on denuclearization, we believe that the two nations still differ on this concept,” said Anwita Basu, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
In previous, failed talks, North Korea has said it could consider giving up its nuclear program if the United States provided security guarantees by removing troops from South Korea and withdrawing its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from the South and Japan.
US officials involved in the latest negotiations have said North Korea has refused to even start discussions about defining denuclearization. (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Joyce Lee and Soyoung Kim; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast.)