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.
 


Former Hong Kong leader hospitalized after losing appeal for misconduct jailing

Updated 20 July 2018
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Former Hong Kong leader hospitalized after losing appeal for misconduct jailing

HONG KONG: Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang was hospitalized Friday after losing an appeal bid against a misconduct conviction in one of the city’s most high-profile corruption cases.
Tsang was jailed last year after being found guilty of failing to disclose his plans to lease a luxury flat from a major investor in a broadcaster, which was later granted a license from the government while he was leader.
The 73-year-old, who held the leadership post of chief executive for seven years from 2005, is the most senior city official ever to be convicted in a criminal trial and the highest-ranking one to be put behind bars.
His trial came at a time when residents were losing faith in Hong Kong’s leaders after a string of corruption cases fueled suspicions over links between public officials and business figures.
Tsang was released on bail last year after two months in prison, pending the appeal.
The Court of Appeal sent him back to prison Friday, but shortly after he was led out of the courtroom by security guards, Tsang was taken away in an ambulance.
Local media reported that he had “felt unwell” and was wearing an oxygen mask.
The Court of Appeal judgment said Friday that: “It defies belief that someone with the applicant’s long experience and background in government service could have overlooked the need to make a declaration of interest in these circumstances.”
It added that Tsang’s misconduct was “particularly serious, given his pre-eminent position in the community and the harm his actions will have engendered among the people of Hong Kong in their confidence in the way the Government does its business.”
However, the court reduced Tsang’s sentence from 20 months to 12 months, saying the previous judge’s starting point for sentencing was too high.
Speaking outside court after the judgment was delivered and before Tsang was taken to hospital, his wife Selina said she was “disappointed and heartbroken.”
“After discussing with the lawyers later, we will decide the next move as soon as possible,” she told reporters.
Prosecutors during Tsang’s trial characterized his conduct as an abuse of power to further his own personal interests.
In 2012, he apologized over separate allegations that he had accepted inappropriate gifts from business friends in the form of trips on luxury yachts and private jets.
His former deputy Rafael Hui was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in 2014 after being found guilty of taking bribes from Hong Kong property tycoon Thomas Kwok.