President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas - photo courtesy of the Kremlin
CAIRO – 28 January 2018: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas thanked Egypt and Ethiopia for backing the Palestinian cause in the UN Security Council during his speech in the opening session of the 30th African Union (AU) Summit.
Abbas accused Israel of attempting to alter the spiritual and historic identity of Jerusalem in addition to demolishing Muslim and Christian sacred sites. He also criticized Israel for promulgating laws supporting its occupation of Eastern Jerusalem.
The Palestinian cause was discussed in bilateral meetings among other topics by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry and his counterparts from Gabon, Angola, Malawi and Côte d'Ivoire.
The Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on the U.S. decision, called for by Turkey and Yemen, took place on December 21 whereas 128 countries voted for the draft resolution and nine countries voted against, while 35 abstained from voting on the draft resolution.
That was three days after the United States vetoed the Egyptian-drafted resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) objecting to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Palestinian officials vowed to take all possible measures internationally after the veto on December 18 as the decision breaches all former United Nations (UN) resolutions on Israel and Palestinian territories.
The UN draft resolution, approved by the remaining 14 UNSC Member States stated, “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status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem, have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.” The resolution, however, does not mention the U.S.
Ten Emergency Special Sessions of the General Assembly were held from 1997 to 2009, and all of the sessions dealt with Israeli violations against Palestinians and their territory except for one that necessitated a ceasefire by both Israelis and Palestinians in 2002. The issue with UNGA resolutions, whether passed in emergency or regular annual sessions, is that they are not binding but they can have a significant political impact.
Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations states, “Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.” Non-abiding states may be subject to sanctions by the UN.
As the United States is one of the five permanent UNSC Member States possessing the veto right, it is likely to block any future resolutions against its decision. That is evident from the words of the U.S. Permanent Envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, “What we witnessed here in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten.”
On December 20, Haley tweeted "On Thursday there will be a vote criticizing our choice. The U.S. will be taking names" referring to the 193-nation assembly. The U.S. president also threatened of cutting aid to countries voting in favor of the resolution.
On December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the American embassy in Israel would be moved to Jerusalem, therefore recognizing the city as the Israeli capital. Consequently, international objection and protests in the Palestinian territories erupted. Clashes between protestors and Israeli security forces resulted in 10 deaths and over 2,000 injuries up until now.