File Photo: Delegates attend meeting of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly (Reuters)
The 193-member United Nations General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim states on US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said the General Assembly would vote on a draft resolution calling for Trump's declaration to be withdrawn, which was vetoed by the United States in the 15-member UN Security Council on Monday.
The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem."
“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," Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement shortly after the veto.
Mansour said on Monday he hoped there would be "overwhelming support" in the General Assembly for the resolution. Such a vote is non-binding, but carries political weight.
Under a 1950 resolution, an emergency special session can be called for the General Assembly to consider a matter "with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures" if the Security Council fails to act.
Only 10 such sessions have been convened, and the last time the General Assembly met in such a session was in 2009 on occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian territories. Thursday's meeting will be a resumption of that session.
Trump abruptly reversed decades of US policy this month when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world and concern among Washington's western allies.
Trump also plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The draft UN resolution calls upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Monday that the resolution was vetoed in the Security Council in defense of US sovereignty and the US role in the Middle East peace process. She criticized it as an insult to Washington and an embarrassment to council members.
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.