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.
 


Malaysia to release report on missing flight MH370 on July 30

Updated 20 min 45 sec ago
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Malaysia to release report on missing flight MH370 on July 30

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will release on July 30 a long-awaited report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the transport minister said on Friday.
In May, Malaysia called off a privately-funded underwater search for the aircraft, which became one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries when it vanished with 239 aboard en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014.
The investigation team would brief families of those aboard on the report at the transport ministry on July 30, said the minister, Anthony Loke.
“Every word recorded by the investigation team will be tabled in this report,” he told reporters, adding that a news conference would follow the closed-door briefing.
“We are committed to the transparency of this report,” Loke added. “It will be tabled fully, without any editing, additions, or redactions.”
The report will be put online, with hard copies distributed to families and accredited media, among others, Loke said, adding, “The whole international community will have access to the report.”
Voice 370, a group representing the relatives, has previously urged the Malaysian government for a review of the flight, including “any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance.”
The only confirmed traces of the Boeing 777 aircraft have been three wing fragments washed up on Indian Ocean coasts.
The search Malaysia called off on May 29, by US-based firm Ocean Infinity, covered 112,000 square kilometers in the southern Indian Ocean within three months, ending with no significant new findings.
It was the second major search after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200 million ($147.06 million) search across an area of 120,000 sq km last year.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said Malaysia would consider resuming the search if new clues came to light.