Egypt says Arab countries may turn to UN General Assembly over Trump's Jerusalem decision

Ahram Online , Tuesday 19 Dec 2017

On Monday, the United States vetoed a draft in the UN Security Council that called on the US to reverse its recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Members of the United Nations Security Council
Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on an Egyptian-drafted resolution regarding recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem, during a meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including Palestine, at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., December 18, 2017. (Reuters)

Egypt says Arab countries are considering taking the Arab draft resolution on maintaining the status of Jerusalem to the United Nations General Assembly after the US vetoed the resolution at the Security Council on Monday.

The failed resolution had demanded US President Donald Trump rescind his 6 December decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"This will be discussed within the Arab group to decide on the direction, the timing and the phrasing that will be presented to the [UN General] Assembly," Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in TV comments on Sada Al-Balad satellite TV channel on Monday evening.

The 193-member-nation General Assembly passes decisions through one-member one-vote rule and does not allow vetoes.

On Monday, 14 of the 15 members of the council voted for the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which affirmed that "any decisions and actions which purport to have changed the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be overturned in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.” However, the US vetoed the measure.

Abu Zeid's TV comments on the issue follow in the footsteps of a similar announcement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before the council's vote, stating that the Palestinian leadership would turn to the UN General Assembly in response to a US veto.

Speaking at a Palestinian leadership meeting on Monday night after the resolution failed to pass, Abbas said the leadership would embark on a series of legal, political and diplomatic efforts to counter Trump's decision on Jerusalem.

Egypt, Arab countries and other major Western powers, including France, Russia, China and the UK, have insisted that the final status of Jerusalem should only be determined through negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

"Egypt calls on the world's major powers to fulfill their responsibilities towards the peace process and encourage the parties to negotiate," Abu Zeid added.

Shortly after the veto, Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that Egypt regrets the failure to pass a resolution expressing the “conscience” of the international community which rejected in clear terms the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

“It is very worrying that the Security Council failed to issue a resolution that cofirms its previous resolutions and positions regarding the legal status of Jerusalem as an occupied city, a staus that is subject to negotiations on a final resolution for the Palestinian issue based on internationally agreed upon points of reference,"  the ministry said.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, a move that has never been recognised by the international community.

The Palestinians have long demanded occupied East Jerusalem for the capital of their future state.

Peace negotiations between the Palestinian authorities and Israel – which have lasted for more than two decades based on the 1993 Oslo accords – have been stalled since 2014.

In recent years, Israel has intensified the construction of hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, thus creating new demographics that weaken the ability of the Palestinians to build a geographically contiguous state.

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