UN Council Weighs Measure Rejecting US Jerusalem Decision

Hamas capital Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem as seen from the Mount of Olives. Photo: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

The U.N. Security Council is considering a draft resolution finding that any change to the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect and must be reversed, after the U.S. recognized the city as Israel’s capital.

Egypt circulated the draft text on Saturday, and diplomats said the council could vote on the proposed measure as early as Monday.

Breaking with the international consensus, U.S. President Donald J. Trump this month announced that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv, sparking protests and strong condemnation.

The draft resolution obtained by AFP stresses that Jerusalem is an issue “to be resolved through negotiations” and expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem,” without specifically mentioning Mr. Trump’s move.

“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the character, status or demographic composition” of Jerusalem “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded,” it says.

Diplomats said they expected the United States to use its veto power to block the measure while most, if not all, of the 14 other council members were expected to back the draft resolution.

U.S. 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.

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.

The draft resolution calls on all countries to refrain from opening embassies in Jerusalem, reflecting concerns that other governments could follow the U.S. lead.

It demands that all member-states not recognize any actions that are contrary to U.N. resolutions on the status of the city.

Several U.N. resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from territory seized during the 1967 war and have reaffirmed the need to end the occupation of that land.

The Palestinians had sought a toughly-worded draft resolution that would have directly called on the U.S. administration to scrap its decision.

But some U.S. allies on the council such as Britain, France, Egypt, Japan and Ukraine were reluctant to be too hard-hitting and insisted that the proposed measure should reaffirm the position enshrined in current resolutions, diplomats said.

Backed by Muslim countries, the Palestinians are expected to turn to the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a resolution rejecting the U.S. decision, if, as expected, the measure is vetoed by the United States at the council.

Aside from the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia can veto any resolution presented at the council, which requires nine votes for adoption.