President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that back a UN resolution opposing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as he took the step amid international criticism.
The president told reporters at the White House: “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us.
“Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
Donald Trump’s comments come ahead of a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution opposing any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The draft resolution does not mention the United States, but says any decisions on Jerusalem should be canceled.
Earlier, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned member states that President Donald Trump had asked her to report on “who voted against us” on December 21.
The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries currently maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. However, President Trump has told the US state department to start work on moving the US embassy.
The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on December 21 at the request of Arab and Muslim states, who condemned President Trump’s decision to reverse decades of US policy earlier this month.
The Palestinians called for the meeting after the US vetoed a Security Council resolution, which affirmed that any decisions on the status of Jerusalem were “null and void and must be rescinded”, and urged all states to “refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city”.
The other 14 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the draft, but Ambassador Nikki Haley described it as an “insult”.
The non-binding resolution put forward by Turkey and Yemen for the General Assembly vote mirrors the vetoed Security Council draft.
The Palestinian permanent observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said he hoped there would be “overwhelming support” for the resolution.
However, on December 19, Nikki Haley warned in a letter to dozens of member states that encouraged them to “know that the president and the US take this vote personally”.
According to journalists who were shown the letter, Nikki Haley wrote: “The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”
“The president’s announcement does not affect final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” she added.
“The president also made sure to support the status quo of Jerusalem’s holy sites.”
Nikki Haley also tweeted: “At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, accused the US of intimidation.
Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference in Ankara on December 20 before travelling to New York: “We see that the United States, which was left alone, is now resorting to threats. No honorable, dignified country would bow down to this pressure.”
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has summoned American Ambassador Dan Shapiro amid a growing row after the US eased the passage of a UN resolution against Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, took the unusual step of calling the US ambassador to his office.
The move comes after Israel summoned ambassadors from countries which voted for the December 23 resolution.
The reprimands came after Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to take retaliatory steps for what he called a “shameful” act by the UN.
The resolution, which harshly criticized Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, passed when the US abstained instead of using its veto.
Image source Wikimedia
Israel has accused the US, its closest ally but a frequent critic of settlements, of engineering the vote – a charge Washington has denied.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: “From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, co-ordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed.
“Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”
The UN resolution – the first since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy – said the settlements had “no legal validity” and constituted “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution”.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama have had a difficult relationship during President Obama’s two terms and Israel had feared that Washington would take such a measure in the final weeks of Obama’s presidency.
Donald Trump tweeted that the vote was a “big loss” for Israel which “will make it much harder to negotiate peace”, vowing “we will get it done anyway”.
The president-elect promised that “things will be different” at the UN after he takes office on January 20.
Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his foreign ministry to summon the ambassadors of 10 countries which voted in favor of the resolution and which have embassies in Israel.
The reprimand on Christmas Day, when most embassies are closed, is unusual and a sign of the seriousness with which Israel is taking the matter.
In remarks on December 24, Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would work to get the resolution rescinded, adding that allies in the US Congress and the incoming administration had promised to “fight an all-out war” against the measure.
The prime minister said he had already halted Israeli funding to five UN institutions “that are especially hostile to Israel”, and warned of further steps to come.
In the wake of the vote, Israel recalled its ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal, which both put forward the resolution, and canceled planned visits to Israel by the foreign ministers of Senegal and Ukraine, which had voted for the text.
The issue of Jewish settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians.
More than 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land the Palestinians want for a future state.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has described the UN call to end settlement activity on occupied land as “shameful”.
The prime minister stressed that Israel would not abide by December 23vote at the 15-member UN Security Council.
However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman said the resolution was a “big blow to Israeli policy”.
The resolution was passed after the US refused to veto it, breaking with long-standing American practice.
Washington has traditionally sheltered Israel from condemnatory resolutions.
The Egyptian-drafted resolution had been withdrawn after Israel asked President-elect Donald Trump to intervene, but it was proposed again by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela.
The UN resolutin, approved by 14 votes to zero, with only the US abstaining, demands that Israel immediately “cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”.
Image source Wikimedia
It says Jewish settlements are a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.
The issue is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians.
About 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms.
“At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half-a-million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall <<occupied territory>>.”
He said the Obama administration “not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes”, and added that he looked forward to working with Donald Trump.
Israel also announced its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal had been ordered to return for consultations and that it was cutting all aid programs to Senegal.
It has no diplomatic ties with Malaysia and Venezuela.
A spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas said: “The Security Council resolution is a big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements and a strong support for the two-state solution.”
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said: “The Council’s action, while long overdue, is timely, necessary and important.”
Samantha Power, the US envoy to the UN, said the resolution reflected the “facts on the ground” that settlement growth had been accelerating.
Criticizing Benjamin Netanyahu, she said: “One cannot simultaneously champion expanding settlements and champion a two-state solution that would end the conflict.”
However, Samantha Power said the US had not voted in favor of the resolution because it was “too narrowly focused” on settlements.
She added that even if all settlements were dismantled, both sides would still have to acknowledge “uncomfortable truths” and make “difficult choices” to reach peace.
Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted after the vote: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”
On December 22, Donald Trump had urged the council to reject the motion, saying: “Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.”
The US has submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test and missile launch.
The resolution, aimed at imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea, is backed by China.
The measures would for the first time require UN member states to inspect all cargo to or from North Korea.
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said it would be the strongest set of sanctions imposed by the Security Council in more than 20 years.
A vote is expected at the weekend.
North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket in February and a nuclear test in January were widely condemned as a flagrant violation of UN resolutions.
China also condemned North Korea’s actions but it has previously been reluctant to endorse sanctions that could threaten its neighbor’s stability.
“For the first time in history, all cargo going in and out of the DPRK (North Korea) would be subjected to mandatory inspection,” Samantha Power said after presenting the draft resolution measure to the Security Council.
“These sanctions, if adopted, would send an unambiguous and unyielding message to the DPRK regime. The world will not accept your proliferation. There will be consequences for your actions.”
February 25 announcement followed weeks of negotiations between the US and China that culminated in talks in Washington this week between Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
North Korea insists its missile program is purely scientific in nature, but the US, South Korea and even its ally China say such rocket launches are aimed at developing inter-continental ballistic missiles.
North Korea has responded to a UN move towards a probe into the country’s human rights violations by threatening to conduct a nuclear test.
The North Korean foreign ministry on November 20 accused the US of orchestrating a recent UN resolution calling for the investigation.
North Korea previously conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
Its threat comes as new satellite images emerge indicating fresh activity at a North Korean nuclear facility.
A UN human rights committee on November 18 passed a resolution calling on the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.
Pyongyang said the resolution was based on “fabricated testimonies” from North Korean defectors and “slander against Pyongyang”.
The resolution’s approval was a “grave political provocation” by the US and such “aggression..is leaving us unable to further refrain from staging a new nuclear test”.
It added that its military deterrence “will be beefed up limitlessly” to guard against the US.
A US State Department spokesman said: “It would certainly be unfortunate to threaten with that kind of activity in response to the legitimate focus on North Korea’s human rights situation by the international community.”
North Korea has previously rejected claims of human rights violations.
Following a UN report alleging the country was committing “unspeakable atrocities”, a Pyongyang official held a rare open briefing last month where he denied the existence of prison camps, and said there were only detention centers.
Tuesday’s resolution drew heavily on the report, which was released in February.
Analysts however say that it is unlikely that the Security Council will allow North Korea to be tried in the ICC, as Russia and China – which voted against the resolution – sit on the Council.
North Korea’s nuclear test threat comes as a US research institute published new evidence that Pyongyang may be restarting a plant that can reprocess nuclear fuel into weapons-grade plutonium.
The US-Korea Institute posted recent satellite images showing activity at a radiochemical laboratory at the Yongbyon facility on 38 North, its website devoted to North Korea analysis.
The pictures show a cooling tower emitting steam, vehicles coming and going, and piles of “grey material” stacked outside a facility believed to be manufacturing fuel.
Brazil and Germany have asked the UN General Assembly to adopt a draft resolution calling for the right to privacy in the digital age.
The draft calls for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, noting that the illegal collection of personal data “constitutes a highly intrusive act”.
Brazil and Germany have both been angered by allegations of large-scale US surveillance.
The allegations stem from revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The draft resolution, which does not name individual countries, will be debated by a General Assembly committee focusing on human rights.
The draft calls on the 193-member assembly to declare that it is “deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications”.
This includes “extraterritorial surveillance of communications, their interception, as well as the collection of personal data, in particular massive surveillance, interception and data collection”.
The resolution, which will be voted on later this month, calls on all countries to protect the right to privacy guaranteed under international law.
The UN draft resolution follows allegations that the US has been eavesdropping on foreign leaders, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they can carry significant moral and political weight if they win enough support.
The draft follows allegations that the US has been eavesdropping on foreign leaders, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, angering US allies in Europe and Asia.
Disclosures about the extent of US spying activity came from documents leaked to media organizations by Edward Snowden.
Angela Merkel’s anxiety about US spying overshadowed last week’s EU summit, when she remarked with irritation that spying on friends is “really not on”.
Dilma Rousseff was angered by revelations that the NSA had hacked the computer network of Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras to collect data on emails and telephone calls.
The UN has unanimously voted to adopt a binding resolution on ridding Syria of chemical weapons.
At a session in New York, the 15-member Security Council backed the draft document agreed earlier by Russia and the US.
The deal breaks a two-and-a-half year deadlock in the UN over Syria, where fighting between government forces and rebels rages on.
The vote came after the international chemical watchdog agreed on a plan to destroy Syria’s stockpile by mid-2014.
Speaking after the vote in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the decision as “historic”.
“Tonight the international community has delivered.”
Ban Ki-moon urged the Syrian government to implement the resolution “faithfully and without delay”, and also announced a tentative date of mid-November for a new peace conference in Geneva.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the UN demonstrated that “diplomacy can be so powerful that it can peacefully defuse the worst weapons of war”.
John Kerry said the resolution would for the first time seek to eliminate entirely a nation’s chemical weapons capability.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also hailed the move, saying Moscow “war ready to take part in all operations” in Syria.
The UN has unanimously voted to adopt a binding resolution on ridding Syria of chemical weapons
However, he stressed that the success of international efforts was “not only on Damascus’ shoulders” and that Syrian opposition must co-operate.
The UN resolution condemns the use of chemical weapons but does not attribute blame.
The text has two legally binding demands: that Syria abandons its weapons stockpile and that the chemical weapons experts be given unfettered access.
Although the draft refers to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows the use of military force, a second resolution authorizing such a move would be needed.
President Barack Obama earlier said agreement on the issue by council members would be a “potentially huge victory for the international community”.
Previous attempts at a resolution stumbled amid disagreements between Russia and the US on how to deal with the crisis in Syria.
The US – backed by France and the UK – had pushed for a resolution carrying the threat of military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s armed forces. Russia had opposed this.
Reacting to the vote, Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said the resolution covered most of Damascus’ concerns.
But he stressed that countries supporting Syrian rebels should also abide by the adopted document.
The UN vote came just hours after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) adopted what it called “a historic decision on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons”.
In a statement after a late-night meeting in The Hague, the watchdog said its executive council “agreed on an accelerated programme for achieving the complete elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014. The decision requires inspections in Syria to commence from 1 October 2013”.
“The decision also calls for ambitious milestones for destruction which will be set by the (executive) council by 15 November.”
OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said the move “sends an unmistakable message that the international community is coming together to work for peace in Syria”.
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