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SVG votes in favour of UN resolution not to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel

SVG votes in favour of UN resolution not to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel


by Katherine Renton

Intimidation tactics on the part of the United States of America (USA) did not dissuade St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) from voting in favour of a United Nations (UN) resolution yesterday.

The resolution, which seeks to reverse all decisions recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, was supported by 128 members of the 193-member assembly, in a stinging rebuke to the United States (US) government.

The USA is not directly mentioned in the UN document, but in the context of US President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the US regards the UN resolution as a direct and ‘personal’ attack.

Trump, speaking to the press at the White House on Wednesday, one day before the vote was scheduled to take place at the UN General Assembly, made it clear that there would be consequences for any country that voted in favour of the resolution.

“For all those nations who take our money and then they vote against us,” Trump stated, and who “take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars… we’re watching those votes,” Trump warned.

Nonchalantly threatening to revoke US aid to these countries, the President further stated, “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

The President’s comments endorsed and reinforced thinly veiled threats by US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who took to Twitter on Tuesday to publicly deliver her country’s message. She tweeted, “At the UN we’re always asked to do more and give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American people, about where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thursday there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”

On the same day that she tweeted this, December 19, Haley also dispatched cautionary letters by email to 180 out of 193 member countries of the United Nations, including SVG.

The Ambassador wrote, “The President will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”

On Wednesday, SVG’s Ambassador to the UN, Inga Rhonda King, replied by email, reaffirming this country’s stance on the matter.

“As you are aware, the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has a position on Jerusalem, and on the wider Israel-Palestinian issue, grounded in settled international law,” King wrote.

Ambassdor King also referenced the December 5, 2017 Declaration made by SVG, which lists the reasons for taking this position.

That Declaration opined, “The decades of painstaking work, to say nothing of the lives lost in the conflict, demand mature, responsible and measured action. Accordingly, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines strongly urges the United States of America to acknowledge that any unilateral declaration on its part regarding the status of Jerusalem will not in any way advance the cause of a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute between the peoples of Israel and Palestine.”

However, in her reply to the USA on Wednesday, King stated that SVG’s vote “cannot, and must not, be seen as a vote against the United States of America, whom we treasure as an enduring ally.”

She continued, “Indeed, St Vincent and the Grenadines is a true friend of the USA, but sometimes, friends differ; on Jerusalem, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines respectfully differs with the current administration in the USA; and so too, do many of the staunchest friends and allies.”

As regards yesterday’s vote, King’s email to Haley indicated that SVG would vote in favour of the resolution, in line with the opinion of the majority of the countries worldwide.

Only nine countries, including the US and Israel, voted against the resolution; 35 countries, abstained and another 21 were absent from the vote.

The General Assembly vote is nonbinding, but carries political resonance, particularly in the Middle East, where the US decision has sparked protests and been condemned by Arab governments.

The resolution which came before the General Assembly yesterday is similar to one the US vetoed on Monday in the Security Council, the first veto of the Trump administration. That Egypt-sponsored resolution was supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members.