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U.S. Faces Blunt Criticism at U.N. Over Jerusalem Decree

The United States faced blunt and sometimes withering criticism from friends and adversaries alike at the United Nations on Friday over President Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and his plans to move the American Embassy to the highly contested holy city.

The rebukes, made at an emergency Security Council meeting called over Mr. Trump’s announcement, constituted an extraordinarily public denunciation of American policy on the world’s most prominent diplomatic stage, leaving the United States alone on the issue among the council’s 15 members.

One by one, the ambassadors of Sweden, Egypt, Britain, France and Bolivia, among others, reiterated their view that President Trump’s announcement had subverted the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a longtime bedrock of the United Nations position on resolving it. Some, like Bolivia’s ambassador, Sacha Sergio Llorenty Solíz, demanded that the body take action, “otherwise the Security Council will become an occupied territory,” he said.

It is unclear what the council members could do, however, except to voice their anger and frustration. The United States is one of the five permanent members and could veto any resolution seeking to condemn President Trump’s decision.

After the meeting adjourned, however, the ambassadors of Britain, France, Sweden, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement outside the council’s chambers condemning their American ally’s change of position, saying it was “not in line with Security Council resolutions and was unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.”

Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden said during the meeting that “the statement by the United States president goes against the plea of many friends of the United States and Israel.”

Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, the ambassador from Egypt — one of the few Muslim-majority nations to have recognized Israel — recited a litany of Security Council resolutions aimed in part at preventing Israel from declaring sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.

The Security Council considers East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, as occupied territory, and that its status should be resolved in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.

“This is a dangerous precedent,” the Egyptian ambassador said. “These are the resolutions of the Security Council.” He said the resolutions constitute “the law that governs the status of Jerusalem. All countries have pledged, according the U.N. charter, to implement and abide by it.”

Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador, defended President Trump’s decision, asserting that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since its founding in 1948, “despite many attempts by others to deny that reality.”

Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador, who, along with the Palestinian ambassador, had been invited to address the council, was Ms. Haley’s only supporter during the meeting. He called Mr. Trump’s announcement “a courageous decision.”

The Palestinian ambassador, Riyad H. Mansour, urged the Security Council to reaffirm its position on Jerusalem in a new resolution and said that the United States decision “disqualifies its role as a just broker for peace.”

Mr. Trump said in his announcement on Wednesday that the decision was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” and was not intended to pre-empt a negotiated solution to the conflict or to take a position on the city’s boundaries.

Critics have said that recognizing Israel’s claim to Jerusalem without acknowledging a Palestinian claim broke with international consensus and prejudged the outcome of any negotiations.

Source: New York Times

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