Donald Trump threatens to cut 'billions of dollars' in aid to countries over UN Jerusalem vote

'We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Wednesday 20 December 2017 19:53 GMT
Donald Trump threatens to cut 'billions of dollars' of aid to countries over UN Jerusalem vote

Donald Trump has threatened to withhold billions of dollars in aid from those nations which criticise his controversial decision to unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In a raising of the stakes over the US’s move to recognise Jerusalem and shift its embassy there - something long requested by Israel and their conservative supporters in the US - Mr Trump said he could penalise those countries that voted against the move at the UN.

Previously, the US’s UN Ambassador Niki Haley had warned the US would would be “taking names” of any countries who supported a resolution criticising Washington’s actions. A vote is scheduled to take place on Thursday after the US on Monday vetoed a vote by the UN Security Council that would have demanded Mr Trump reverse his decision.

The Associated Press said Mr Haley had written to most of the 193 UN members states warning of possible retaliation. She said the President was taking the matter personally.

Speaking to members of his cabinet on Wednesday, Mr Trump said he liked what Ms Haley had spelled out. “For all these nations, they take our money and then vote against us. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Mr Trump said.

US vetos UN security council vote on condemning Trump's Jerusalem decision

“We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don't care.”

Earlier this month, Mr Trump declared he was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, a decision that other countries had for decades declined to take as the final status of the city was always considered central to part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” he said when he made the announcement. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”

His decision sparked widespread criticism and many questioned whether the US could have any meaningful role in trying to establish a Middle East peace deal, something Mr Trump has vowed to pursue.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Jerusalem decision not a sign that US is pulling out of peace process

The Palestinians had sought the General Assembly vote after the US used its veto on Monday. The UK had supported the censure and will likely do so again in the General Assembly.

Unlike votes taken by the Security Council, assembly resolutions are not legally binding although they do reflect world opinion.

In the letter sent by Ms Haley, she said: “The US is simply asking that you acknowledge the historical friendship, partnership, and support we have extended and respect our decision about our own embassy.”

She added: “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 Twitter, she had written: “At the UN we're always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticising our choice. The US will be taking names.”

The resolution was co-sponsored by Turkey, chair of the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and Yemen, chair of the Arab Group at the UN

The resolution that will be put to a vote is very similar to the defeated Security Council resolution.

It reaffirms 10 Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city's final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

It says: “Any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”

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