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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Washington vetoes Jerusalem resolution amid Palestinian fury

Palestinians plan further moves in struggle against US embassy shift to Jerusalem

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said US failure to use its veto on a resolution on settlements a year ago had put Israeli-Palestinian peace 'further out of reach'. Brendan McDermid / Reuters
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said US failure to use its veto on a resolution on settlements a year ago had put Israeli-Palestinian peace 'further out of reach'. Brendan McDermid / Reuters

The US vetoed a UN security council resolution that rejected Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, forcing Palestinian representatives to announce they would seek United Nations General Assembly support.

The Security Council voted on Monday on a motion that rejected US President Donald Trump's decision to name Jerusalem. The vote, called by Egypt, saw the United States use its veto power but France and Britain, its traditional allies, backed the resolution.

Ambassador Nikki Haley said the US failure to use its veto on a resolution on settlements a year ago had put Israeli-Palestinian peace "further out of reach".

"We will not make that mistake again," she warned.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said the General Assembly could make its views know if the security council was stymied.

"We will show her their position is isolated and rejected internationally," Mr Malki said in a statement.

The draft resolution named no country, but expressed "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem".

It stressed "Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations".

"Any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition" of Jerusalem "have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded."

Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

The Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state and oppose any measures that could infringe on that prospect.

The UN General Assembly is expected to hold a plenary session Tuesday, including a discussion on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

The five permanent members of the Security Council have veto power, but there are no vetoes at the General Assembly.

Breaking with international consensus, President Donald Trump on December 6 recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and said he would move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, sparking protests and strong condemnation.

US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Jerusalem on Wednesday, wading into the crisis over one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has scrapped a meeting with Mr Pence in protest at the Jerusalem announcement, and will instead head to Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Mr Abbas has sought to unify the Muslim world in opposition to Trump's Jerusalem move.

Last night the Palestinian cabinet met for the first time since Mr Trump's announcement at a pivotal moment in the crisis.

The Palestinians can use the scope of Resolution 377A, known as the "Uniting for Peace" resolution to ensure the general assembly has its say on the decision.

Resolution 377A was passed in 1950 and used to authorise the deployment of U.S. troops to fight in the Korean war.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian permanent observer at the UN, said the authority resorted to the "Uniting for Peace" resolution in the 1990s after Israel began building a settlement on Jabal Abut Ghnaim, a hilltop on occupied West Bank land south of Jerusalem, but left that session in suspension. However, they could seek a resumption of the session, he said.

"If the resolution is vetoed, the Palestinian delegation can send a letter to the UN Secretary General and ask him to resume the emergency session," he said.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon spoke ahead of UNSC vote to dismiss the meeting. “Members of the Council can vote again and again - for a hundred more times. It won’t change the simple fact that Jerusalem is, has been, and always will be the capital of Israel,” he said.

Hours before the New York showdown Israeli aircraft targeted a Hamas facility in the northern Gaza Strip early Monday in response to two rockets fired from the Palestinian enclave struck southern Israel, the army said.

"In response to the rockets launched towards southern Israel, IAF (Israel air force) aircraft targeted a Hamas training compound in the northern Gaza Strip," a statement from the military said.

"In the compound three structures and other terror infrastructure were targeted."

A Palestinian security source said there were no injuries.

On Sunday night, two rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel, one damaging a home in a border town.

Another flew short of its target, falling inside the Gaza boundary line.