US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stood alone in her veto cast, blocking the resolution, introduced by Egypt, despite the 14 other members of the Security Council voting in favor.
“Today for the simple act of deciding where to put our embassy, the United States was forced to defend its sovereignty. The record will reflect that we did so proudly,” Haley said after the vote.
Exercising its veto power at the United Nations for the first time, the Trump administration torpedoed a Security Council resolution critical of the White House’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The unanimity of the rest of the council was a stark rebuke to the Trump administration over its unilateral move earlier this month, which upended decades of international consensus.
The Egyptian-drafted resolution did not specifically mention the US or Trump but expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.
A spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, responded to the veto by saying it was “unacceptable and threatens the stability of the international community because it disrespects it”
The UK and France had indicated in advance that they would back the text, which demanded that all countries comply with pre-existing UNSC resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The resolution was denounced in furious language by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who described it as “an insult” that would not be forgotten. “The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy,” she said.
“It’s scandalous to say we are putting back peace efforts,” she added. “The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the security council.”
Israel celebrated the US veto, calling Haley a “Maccabi,” a Jewish warrior family from biblical times whose story is celebrated on the holiday of Hanukkah, during which the vote took place. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of Haley on social media moments after the vote, “You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated the lies. Thank you, President Trump. Thank you, Nikki Haley.
Israeli officials never really fretted about the vote, assured by the virtual certainty the United States would veto the resolution. The proposed resolution comes almost exactly one year after UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which criticized Israel for the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, calling them “a flagrant violation of international law.” In the vote, taken in the waning days of the Obama administration, 14 of the 15 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution; the United States abstained, allowing it to pass.