Trump, the UN, and the Future of Jerusalem

31 Dec


Trump, the UN, and the Future of Jerusalem


[Prefatory Note: This post is the modified text of an interview on behalf of the Tasnim News Agency in Iran as conducted by Mohammed Hassani. It tries to assess the wider implications of the UN reaction to Trump’s December 6th decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to follow this by relocating the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.]


Q1: As you know, nearly 130 countries recently voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning the US decision to recognize Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the capital of the Israeli regime. What message does the vote signal to the world’ public opinion?

The main message of this overwhelming rejection of the Trump recognition of al-Quds as the capital of Israel by the UN General Assembly is to disclose that the Palestinian national movement continues to enjoy strong support from each and every important country in the world, thereby rejecting the current Israeli approach, supported by the United States, to impose unilaterally a solution of the long struggle over land and rights on the Palestinian people. Such a solution would foreclose both a sovereign Palestine, deny the Palestinian people the most fundamental of all rights, that of self-determination, and preclude any fair and just arrangement of shared sovereignty between the two people.

A secondary message was the consensus in the General Assembly that on this issue of Jerusalem matters of global justice take precedence over geopolitical maneuvers. There can also be read into the vote the growing erosion of global leadership that had been exercised by Washington since the end of World War II. This erosion reflects the rise of China, and its advocacy, along with that of Russia, and maybe also even leading countries in Europe, of a multipolar approach to the formation and implementation of global policy with respect to security issues, environmental policies, and economic governance. The fact that America’s closest allies, including France, United Kingdom, and Japan voted for the resolution condemning the effort of the U.S. Government to legitimize the establishment of Jerusalem (al-Quds) as Israel’s capital is also of considerable significance. What remains to be seen is how the future of Jerusalem will unfold in light of these dramatic developments. There are currently visible two tendencies—first, the handful of negative votes by tiny island countries and a few minor and dependent Central American countries to follow the lead of the U.S. and move their embassy to Jerusalem; secondly, the counter-initiative of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, given concrete expression by the Turkish decision to establish its embassy for Palestine in East Jerusalem.

What remains to be seen is whether the Trump presidency softens its stand on these issues or doubles or even triples down by defiantly moving its embassy to Jerusalem, withholding economic assistance from countries that voted for the resolution, and reducing its financial contributions to the UN in a vindictive display of hostility at the various actors viewed as responsible for humiliating the U.S. Government, thereby pleasing those pro-Israeli forces that insist that the UN is primarily a venue for Israel-bashing.

Q2: Prior to the UN vote on Jerusalem, US President Donald Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favor of the resolution. It seems that his warning has been ineffective. What do you think?

Yes, the ineffectiveness of such an unprecedented overt threat at the UN, abetted by back channel pressures, is definitely a sign that U.S. soft power leadership in the world is experiencing a sharp decline if measured against its reality in the years after World War II, and extending throughout the Cold War Era. More generally, the failure of Haley’s threats to influence the vote of a single country of stature in the world is also indicative of a parallel decline of geopolitical capabilities to control global policy at least on the key issue of the rights of the Palestinian people, particularly in the context of Jerusalem, which has a strong symbolic significance for many countries. What is unclear is whether this vote exhibits a broader trend among states to pursue foreign policies that exhibit their sovereign independence and distinct views of global policy, rather than as in the past, displaying a strong tendency to defer to the views of a globally dominant state(s). In this context, the radical character of Trump’s presidency may be having the effect of fracturing hegemonic structures of control in contemporary world order that were in any event faced with accumulating skepticism since the end of the Cold War, and the breakdown of the bipolar structure that had shaped much of global policy between 1945 and 1992. What Trump has done is to intensify pre-existing pressures for global restructuring, a dynamic also reinforced by the rejectionist approach taken by the United States on other key issues of global concern, including climate change, the Iran Nuclear Program (5 + 1) Agreement, global migration, ad international trade. The Trump slogan of ‘America, First’ has to be coupled with ‘World, Last,’ to grasp the extent to which the United States invites by its own initiatives a reaction against its outlier policies at odds with strong countervailing views of the international community of states as to desirable forms of global cooperation for the public good. At the very historical moment when the future of humanity depends on unprecedented action on behalf of human, habitat, and global wellbeing, the leading political actor not only withdraws from the effort, but does its best to obstruct constructive behavior. It is as if the United States Government has become a deadly virus attacking the fabric of the global body politic.



Q3: In a speech at the White House on December 6, Trump said his administration would also begin a years-long process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city of Jerusalem. Do you see any chance that Trump would press ahead with his plan to relocate the embassy given the widespread international opposition? 


My guess at this point is that the U.S. Government will definitely implement its decision to relocate the embassy, but will probably do so in a gradual manner that does not provoke a major subsequent reaction, especially if implementation is entrusted to the State Department. Of course, any steps taken to relocate the American Embassy in Jerusalem will be correctly perceived as a defiant and provocative rejection of the conclusions set forth in the GA Resolution. In this sense, the quality and impact of reactions will depend on the political will of the Palestinian Authority, the OIC, the UN, and world public opinion. At stake, is whether the United States further produces an adverse international reaction to its behavior and whether governments seek to engage further on the issue to preserve the rights of the Palestinian people with respect to Jerusalem. The future interaction with respect to Jerusalem will be very revealing as to both the responsiveness of the United States to the rejection of its approach to the recognition of the Israeli capital at this time and as to the energy of those that supported the resolution to take further steps in the direction of achieving compliance. There is little doubt that a test of wills is likely to emerge in the months ahead that will reveal whether the Jerusalem resolution was a mere gesture or a tipping point.


The fact that the al-Quds resolution was itself based on The Uniting for Peace Resolution (GA Res. 377 A (V), 1950) gives its text a special status, both as the outcome of a rare Emergency Session of the General Assembly and as a truly responsible reaction on behalf of peace and security to an irresponsible use of the veto in the Security Council to block its decision of condemnation backed by a 14-1 vote, that is, all other members. This status gives the General Assembly response on Jerusalem an authoritativeness that should extend far beyond its normal recommendatory capabilities, but as earlier indicated there are few guidelines as to how such an initiative will be implemented if defied.

At stake is the larger issue of whether this path taken to circumvent a P-5 veto in the Security Council might produce a shift in UN authority to the more representative General Assembly.


In any event, it may well be that whatever course of action ensues will exert an important influence on how well the UN in the future can serve the human and global interest, as well as take account of distinct and aggregate national interests as opportunities present themselves. The Trump phenomenon gives a pointedness to fundamental issues of world order viability, especially a capacity to address challenges of global scope in the course of the first biopolitical moment, confronting humanity as such with a prospect of its own mortality.

6 Responses to “Trump, the UN, and the Future of Jerusalem”

  1. United against zionist mass murders and her supporters December 31, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Everyone must read the following article to understand that role of the countries involved in mass murder who have committed crimes against humanity so to come together to destroy these agents of evil.

    A good analysis of the UN vote AGAINST US AND ISRAEL and their complicit Australia and Canada

    [Decent people around the world will urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) not just against Apartheid Israel and its rotten supporters (most notably pro-Apartheid US, pro-Apartheid Australia and pro-Apartheid Canada) but also against all the 65 Sanctions-Deserving Pro-Apartheid States that for whatever reason (racism, greed, cowardice) failed to vote Yes for the UN General Assembly Resolution on Occupied East Jerusalem.]

    The following article to present Israel crimes against humanity and stain on world humanity. zionist expansion must be chopped off and these criminal tribe be destroyed, so their supporter the mass murderers in Washington

    .[The Zionist proposal at the 1919 Paris peace Conference defined intentions. Although, the proposal mentioned that “Palestine is not large enough to contain more than a proportion of the Jews of the world” and “The greater part of the fourteen millions or more scattered throughout all countries must remain in their present localities,” it has become obvious that the Zionists did not intend to follow their statements. Compound that deception with their description of the “General lines for the boundaries of Palestine,” shown as dotted lines on the map. Note their Greater Israel extends close to Beirut in Lebanon, Damascus in Syria, and Amman in Jordan. The boundary captures all the aquifers and facilitates use of the Hedjaz railway.

    It is no coincidence that Israel invaded and occupied the Sinai in 1956 before French and British coordinated attacks against Nasser’s Egypt. Rarely mentioned is a controversial meeting, known as the Protocol of Sèvres,1956, and reported in Anatomy of a War Plot1, which describes Israel Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s proposed plan to Great Britain and France, and executes the Zionist proposals. Although the meeting records are not available in French and British government archives, the meeting occurrence and parts of Ben Gurion’s plan are confirmed in Shimon Peres: the Biography by Michael Bar-Zohar.

    The session started at 4 p.m. on Monday, 22 October, in the conservatory of the villa and it was intended to enable the leaders of the two countries to get to know each other and to have a preliminary discussion. Ben-Gurion opened the discussion by listing his military, political and moral considerations against ‘the English plan’. His main objection was that Israel would be branded as the aggressor while Britain and France would pose as peace-makers but he was also exceedingly apprehensive about exposing Israeli cities to attack by the Egyptian Air Force. Instead he presented a comprehensive plan, which he himself called ‘fantastic’, for the reorganization of the Middle East. Jordan, he observed, was not viable as an independent state and should therefore be divided. Iraq would get the East Bank in return for a promise to settle the Palestinian refugees there and to make peace with Israel while the West Bank would be attached to Israel as a semi-autonomous region. Lebanon suffered from having a large Muslim population which was concentrated in the south. The problem could be solved by Israel’s expansion up to the Litani River, thereby helping to turn Lebanon into a more compact Christian state. The Suez Canal area should be given an international status while the Straits of Tiran in the Gulf of Aqaba should come under Israeli control to ensure freedom of navigation. A prior condition for realizing this plan was the elimination of Nasser and the replacement of his regime with a pro-Western government which would also be prepared to make peace with Israel.]

  2. Laurie Knightly December 31, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    The relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognition as the capitol of Israel was first seriously proposed by Bill Clinton in 1992 during his campaign speech. It was overwhelmingly passed into law by the Senate and House as the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. The move was to be completed by 1999 and $100 million was appropriated for construction and other costs.

    A waiver was included to suspend the move for periods of six months at a time if national security interests were considered at risk. This deferment occurred 38 times. There was never any concern for the Palestinians in any of these actions. Recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel and relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem has been US policy/law/sentiment long before Trump. What Trump did was defer no longer. If the Israeli railroad station in E Jerusalem is named after Trump when completed as has been proposed, we shall see even more anger. This is a few years hence…….

  3. truthaholics December 31, 2017 at 11:01 pm #

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:

    “At stake is the larger issue of whether this path taken to circumvent a P-5 veto in the Security Council might produce a shift in UN authority to the more representative General Assembly.

    In any event, it may well be that whatever course of action ensues will exert an important influence on how well the UN in the future can serve the human and global interest, as well as take account of distinct and aggregate national interests as opportunities present themselves. The Trump phenomenon gives a pointedness to fundamental issues of world order viability, especially a capacity to address challenges of global scope in the course of the first biopolitical moment, confronting humanity as such with a prospect of its own mortality.”

    • Laurie Knightly January 1, 2018 at 11:02 am #

      It was the General Assembly that created/validated/promoted this mess with Resolution 181, the Partition Plan in 1947. When the issue of whether the GA was competent to partition Palestine, the GA itself rejected a motion to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice. The incompetence of the GA had been cited by Sub-Committee 2 of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question, Whatever controversy exists over the legality of partition, there is no question concerning the seizure of territory beyond the boundaries of the Jewish State defined in 1947.

      The UN is not a free agent and exists at the will of its donors. Neither are the voting countries devoid of external threats to their existence. In the international bag of dirty tricks, this issue has a unique status.

      • Mike 71 January 3, 2018 at 3:55 am #

        If UNGAR 181, providing for two states, “one Arab and one Jewish” is “null and void” as you suggest, then the entirety of the former British Mandate belongs to whomever is capable of militarily dominating it. While the Israelis accepted UNGAR 181, the Arabs rejected it, launching the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel, and subsequent wars of aggression in 1967 and 1973 for the purpose of preventing its implementation. The Arabs, in interfering with the implementation of UNGAR 181, rendered it “null and void,” thus entitling Israel to invoke its “Declaration of Independence” as its basis for statehood. Israel, as a “nation-state member” of the U.N., is entitled to invoke its “inherent right to individual, or collective self-defense,” as recognized under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. As Article 51 is contained within Division 7 of the U.N. Charter, unlike Resolutions enacted under Divisions 4 and 6, which are mere suggestions, it is mandatory, carrying the force of International Law.

        It is somewhat disingenuous and hypocritical for the Palestinians, who are not recognized as a state, to argue that UNGAR 181 provides them a legitimate or legal basis for statehood. The Resolution calls for the creation of an Arab state, not a Palestinian state; nowhere does the Resolution designate a state for Palestinians. Having failed to conquer Israel by military means and utterly refusing to engage it diplomatically, the Palestinians have boxed themselves into a situation in which they can no longer invoke UNGAR 181 as a basis for statehood, without conceding that Israelis
        are likewise entitled to similar rights under the Resolution.

        Having captured Gaza, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and east Jerusalem in the 1967 “Six Day War,” a “defensive war of necessity,” Israel as the victorious belligerent may retain captured land under the doctrine of Uti Possidetis, until possession is modified by treaty. See: (Latin: As you possess, you may continue to possess.). As the Palestinians are incapable of militarily conquering Israel and unwilling to engage in direct negotiations to resolve territorial and other issues, the so-called “occupation” of disputed land is likely to become permanent. Only the 1945-1991 Soviet Post World War II occupation of Eastern Europe lasted nearly as long.


  1. Trump, the UN and the future of Jerusalem. | circusbuoy - January 2, 2018

    […] via Trump, the UN, and the Future of Jerusalem — Global Justice in the 21st Century […]

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