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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

How countries voted on Jerusalem's status at the General Assembly

Top US aid recipients ignored White House threat, while Israeli outreach was shown to be limited

The results of the vote on Jerusalem are displayed in the General Assembly hall at UN Headquarters in New York on December 21, 2017. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP
The results of the vote on Jerusalem are displayed in the General Assembly hall at UN Headquarters in New York on December 21, 2017. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP

Ahead of a dramatic vote at the United Nations on Thursday, the United States made an unprecedented threat to fellow members of the international community: those who vote against president Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital risked diplomatic retaliation and losing American financial aid.

But when the dust settled, the biggest recipients of American aid — most of them Muslim or Arab countries — rejected the threat, leaving the White House facing a tricky dilemma as it plots a course forward for the Middle East. Key Arab allies, led by Saudi Arabia, all banded together against the US.

Yet for Mr Trump and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there were some bright spots despite the 128-9 vote. Some influential countries, mostly African and Latin American nations courted by Israel in recent years, stepped back from past support for the Palestinians by abstaining or skipping the vote altogether. Still, two of Mr Netanyahu's biggest targets, China and India, came down solidly in favour of the Palestinians.

These mixed trends could allow each side to claim a victory of sorts.

Here is a closer look at how key countries and regions voted in the General Assembly resolution:

Aid recipients

With the exception of Israel, the top recipients of international aid are Muslim, Arab or African countries. Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan all voted to back the resolution proposed by the Palestinians, as did African countries Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Africa. In addition to Israel, the only member of the top 10 aid recipients not to support the Palestinians was Kenya, a close Israeli ally that skipped the vote, according to foreignassistance.gov.

Arab allies

The Arab world voted across the board with the Palestinians, an expected move given the importance of Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause to the Arab public. Nonetheless, the vote could embarrass the White House, which has sought to cultivate ties with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other moderate Sunni countries to counter rising Iranian influence. It also could complicate attempts by the US to rally support for an expected region-wide peace plan it says is in the works.

Claiming victory

The Palestinians praised the majority in their favour, saying it showed "once again that the just Palestinian cause enjoys the support of the international community". Yet the Palestinians have long enjoyed widespread support in the United Nations, which is dominated by developing countries sympathetic to their cause.

In a possible cause for concern, the level of support was slightly less than a 2012 landmark vote in the General Assembly to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. In that vote, 138 nations supported the Palestinians, compared to 125 on Thursday.

Israeli outreach

Netanyahu has made significant efforts in recent years to build ties with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America in a bid to soften support for the Palestinians at the UN. Those efforts showed some signs of success. After the vote, Mr Netanyahu said he appreciated the growing number of countries that "refused to participate in this theatre of the absurd".

Mexico and Argentina, countries that Mr Netanyahu visited earlier this year, both shifted from past support for the Palestinians to abstentions on Thursday. Two Latin American countries, Guatemala and Honduras, even voted against the resolution.

While Kenya skipped the General Assembly vote, Uganda and South Sudan — African countries courted by Mr Netanyahu — also dropped their past support for the Palestinians and abstained.

But a possible concern for Israel could be the apparent support by two countries with poor human-rights records — Myanmar, which skipped the vote, and the Philippines, which abstained. Both countries voted with the Palestinians in 2012.

The Indian and Chinese votes also exposed the limits of Mr Netanyahu's outreach.

Whither Europe?

As the US prepares a new Mideast peace push, Thursday's vote at the General Assembly exposed deep divisions with Europe. The three most important countries in Europe — Britain, France and Germany — all voted against the US on Thursday. That could signal trouble if the Washington seeks European support for its peace plan down the road.

Other European countries with close ties to Israel, including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic — all with nationalist governments — abstained in the vote.

These divisions within Europe could complicate attempts by the European Union to formulate a joint position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict moving forward.

Below is the full list of how each country attending Thursday's session voted:

Against

1. United States

2. Israel

3. Guatemala

4. Honduras

5. Marshall Islands

6. Micronesia

7. Nauru

8. Palau

9. Togo

In favour

1. Afghanistan

2. Albania

3. Algeria

4. Andorra

5. Angola

6. Armenia

7. Austria

8. Azerbaijan

9. Bahrain

10. Bangladesh

11. Barbados

12. Belarus

13. Belgium

14. Belize

15. Bolivia

16. Botswana

17. Brazil

18. Brunei Darussalam

19. Bulgaria

20. Burkina Faso

21. Burundi

22. Cabo Verde

23. Cambodia

24. Chad

25. Chile

26. China

27. Comoros

28. Congo

29. Costa Rica

30. Ivory Coast

31. Cuba

32. Cyprus

33. North Korea

34. Denmark

35. Djibouti

36. Dominica

37. Ecuador

38. Egypt

39. Eritrea

40. Estonia

41. Ethiopia

42. Finland

43. France

44. Gabon

45. Gambia

46. Germany

47. Ghana

48. Greece

49. Grenada

50. Guinea

51. Guyana

52. Iceland

53. India

54. Indonesia

55. Iran

56. Iraq

57. Ireland

58. Italy

59. Japan

60. Jordan

61. Kazakhstan

62. Kuwait

63. Kyrgyzstan

64. Laos

65. Lebanon

66. Liberia

67. Libya

68. Liechtenstein

69. Lithuania

70. Luxemborg

71. Madagascar

72. Malaysia

73. Maldives

74. Mali

75. Malta

76. Mauritania

77. Mauritius

78. Monaco

79. Montenegro

80. Morocco

81. Mozambique

82. Namibia

83. Nepal

84. Netherlands

85. New Zealand

86. Nicaragua

87. Niger

88. Nigeria

89. Norway

90. Norway

91. Oman

92. Pakistan

93. Papua New Guinea

94. Portugal

95. Qatar

96. South Korea

97. Russia

98. St Vincent-Grenada

99. Saudi Arabia

100. Senegal

101. Serbia

102. Seychelles

103. Singapore

104. Slovakia

105. Slovenia

106. Somalia

107. South Africa

108. Spain

109. Sri Lanka

110. Sudan

111. Suriname

112. Sweden

113. Switzerland

114. Syria

115. Tajikistan

116. Thailand

117. Macedonia

118. Tunisia

119. Turkey

120. UAE

121. United Kingdom

122. Tanzania

123. Uruguay

124. Uzbekistan

125. Venezuela

126. Vietnam

127. Yemen

128. Zimbabwe

Abstained

1. Antigua-Barbuda

2. Argentina

3. Australia

4. Bahamas

5. Benin

6. Bhutan

7. Bosnia-Herzegovina

8. Cameroon

9. Canada

10. Colombia

11. Croatia

12. Czech Republic

13. Dominican Republic

14. Equatorial Guinea

15. Fiji

16. Haiti

17. Hungary

18. Jamaica

19. Kiribati

20. Latvia

21. Lesotho

22. Malawi

23. Mexico

24. Panama

25. Paraguay

26. Philippines

27. Poland

28. Romania

29. Rwanda

30. Solomon Islands

31. South Sudan

32. Trinidad-Tobago

33. Tuvalu

34. Uganda

35. Vanuatu