US isolated as major allies denounce Trump’s call on Jerusalem

09 Dec 2017


The United States found itself isolated at a special United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday in its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that set off alarms about the risk of escalating conflict in the Middle East.

Eight of the 15 members of the UN Security Council had called for an urgent meeting on Friday to analyse the decision taken by Washington.

The White House is urging all parties to ''act in a matter conducive to peace'' amid violent protests over President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Early this morning, White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters aboard Air Force Once that ''the president has called for calm and moderation''.

Large crowds of worshippers across the Muslim world staged anti-US marches Friday in the largest outpouring of anger yet at Trump's recognition of bitterly contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Shah said the president was briefed and ''fully aware'' of the potential ramifications of his actions.

But he said the White House maintains it was the right thing to do and that Trump is still committed to a Middle East peace deal.

A sense of how isolated the United States had become was in the air due to the decision announced by President Donald Trump, who since his electoral campaign had expressed an obvious favouritism for Israel's stance on the matter.

Traditional US allies in the UN Security Council, including Britain, France, Sweden, Italy and Japan, criticized President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

''The status of Jerusalem must be determined through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians leading to a final status agreement,'' five European nations said in a statement at the end of the meeting.

Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft called the US decision ''unhelpful to peace''.

Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog said the US action ''contradicts international law and Security Council resolutions'', stressing that Jerusalem's status is to be decided in direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

France's UN Ambassador Francois Delattre expressed regret at the US decision, citing legal grounds, its impact on efforts to reach a two-state solution and the potential escalation of violence.

He said the United States must explain how Trump's action aligns with the legal foundation ''on which all peace efforts are based''.

Italy's UN Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi said Jerusalem's status must be negotiated and expressed serious concern at ''the risk of unrest and tensions in the region.''

Japan's UN Ambassador Koro Bessho said his government opposes ''any unilateral measures'' and feared the heightened tensions on the ground, saying violence ''can easily snowball into larger crises''.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council Friday that ''one party cannot continue to monopolise the peace process,'' especially one that is biased in favour of ''the occupying power,'' Israel.

Mansour urged the Security Council to denounce what he called the ''irresponsible'' U.S. decision and reaffirm its position on the status of Jerusalem - that the holy city's status is unresolved and must be decided during Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations on a two-state solution.

The European Union ''has a clear and united position: we believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states, and with Jerusalem as the capital of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine'', an EU statement said, indicating that until that occurs, the EU will not recognize any sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The European statement was the only collective position issued at the end of the Security Council meeting, which closed without a joint statement or resolution of any kind.

Meanwhile, the US envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, defended Trump's announcement and took the occasion to slam the United Nations for what she called its ''hostility'' toward Israel.

Haley said that for many years, the United Nations ''has outrageously been one of the world's foremost centres of hostility towards Israel''.

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