U.N. Pooh-Poohs Trump's Threats and
Rebukes His Stance on Jerusalem


A panoramic view of Tallinn from Toompea, which is the seat of the government of Estonia. The word Toompea—derived from the German word Domberg—means “the Cathedral Hill.” It is named after the Aleksandr Nevsky Cathedral. The author is seen here with two local students who were visiting Toompea at the same time he did.

July 28, 2009—Tuesday

Riyad Mansour, center, the Palestinian representative at the U.N., walking past Nikki R. Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., on December 21, 2017. (Picture, by Justin Lane of European Pressphoto Agency, is reproduced courtesy The New York Times.)


​​It all started with this arrogant, arbitrary decision made by U.S. President Donald Trump on December 6, 2017: “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
The president left out an important part from his declaration: that he was delivering on the promise he made to wealthy campaign contributors and the powerful Jewish lobby in America. Making Jerusalem the capital of Israel is a matter that is dear to the hearts of most Jews in the country.  
The decision Mr. Trump made, if and when implemented, would repudiate all the previous U.N. resolutions on the final status of Jerusalem. It would also violate the position all previous U.S. administrations had taken on the issue. The accepted position, even the one mediated by the U.S., has been that the final status of Jerusalem should be determined by Israelis and Palestinians through negotiations. The status of Jerusalem is the most sensitive of all issues that divide the two groups. All previous negotiators thoughtfully put off tackling it to the end, so it wouldn’t stand in the way of resolving other issues involved in the 70-year-old dispute.

The hope of resolving the Jerusalem issue was predicated on East Jerusalem being recognized as the capital of Palestine that would be created as a result of the negotiations. Israel has been in illegal occupation of many territories, including East Jerusalem, which it grabbed during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Those territories are part of Palestine envisaged in the U.N. resolution of 1948. No two-state solution, which the world community has been hoping for, is possible as long as Israel is in illegal occupation of them, including East Jerusalem.
Negotiations have been stalled ever since Israel started constructing new settlements in the occupied land. President Trump’s December 6 declaration condones the occupation and emboldens Israel to continue its construction activities. It has also deprived Palestinians of whatever incentive they had to go back to the negotiating table. The United States’ reputation as an impartial mediator in this dispute has forever been destroyed by the shortsighted, ill-timed Trump decision.
As was expected, most countries in the world condemned the decision. The 15-member U.N. Security Council met on December 18, hoping to adopt a resolution demanding that the decision be rescinded. Every one of the 14 members, including the close allies of the U.S. – France, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Italy – criticized the Trump decision. But for the lone negative vote from the U.S. that vetoed the resolution, it would have been passed. A U.N. Security Council resolution, as we know, has the validity of international law.
Admittedly, the move at the Security Council infuriated President Trump and his obeisant ambassador to the U.N., Nikki R. Haley. A similar move was already under way at the General Assembly. A resolution identical to the one defeated by the U.S. at the Security Council was scheduled to be put to vote on December 21, 2017. Hoping to thwart the move at the General Assembly, Mr. Trump issued the following threat:
“All of these nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council or they vote against us, potentially, at the Assembly, they take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us.”
“Well, we’re watching those votes,” he added. “Let them vote against us; we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Trump's Affront to the English Language

Pardon the president’s affront to the English language, which is his mother tongue. But there is no mistaking as to whom his threat was directed at. It was directed at the poor nations in the world that receive U.S. foreign aid.
As if acting on cue from her boss, Nikki Haley issued a threat of her own, using the same blackmail tactic. “We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”
One wishes the American ambassador had been half as mature and decent as the Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki, who responded to her threat thus:

“History records names, it remembers names — the names of those who stand by what is right and the names of those who speak falsehood.” He added that Palestinians “will not be threatened” and that the United States had been “ignoring the dangerous repercussions of its decision.”
Pooh-poohing the threats from the U.S. president and his loyal ambassador to the U.N., an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly, including U.S. aid-recipients like Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, voted for the resolution that rebuked Mr. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. It’s a shame that in the 193-member world body, other than Israel, the only countries that supported the U.S. were seven tiny, insignificant ones: Guatemala, Honduras, Togo, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Palau. Trump and Haley can derive some satisfaction from the fact that their threats were not entirely in vain. All these seven nations are heavily dependent on American aid.
Using aid to blackmail its recipient is a tactic known in real estate business and mafia-type operations. Mr. Trump and Ms. Haley would do well not to resort to that tactic in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.

​​​(First published on December 24, 2017. It has since been slightly edited.

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Reader's Response

Nikki Haley Looking for a Presidential Run?

Thank you for an insightful piece on President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the negative reaction in the UN – both to his decision and to his threat of retaliation against those (poor) countries who voted against it.

However, I do not agree that most American Jews support Mr. Trump’s decision. Most of them are not for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Also, most American Jews are against the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory by Israel and its continuous building of Jewish settlements in that territory. They are opposed to the Netanyahu government’s bellicose stance on the ever-expanding settlements.

It is the Jewish lobby that supports Trump and Netanyahu. Most American Jews are secular and recognize that the only feasible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the two-state solution advocated by all previous U.S. administrations.

By the way, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Mr. Trump's ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, is looking to a future presidential run.

Asoke Maurya
(via email)

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