Australia, Pacific nations sidestep overwhelming UN vote on Jerusalem

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Australia, Pacific nations sidestep overwhelming UN vote on Jerusalem

Palestinians react to the Security Council vote on Jerusalem vetoed by the US earlier this week. Video: Al Jazeera

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Australia and other Pacific nations did not join almost 130 countries in an overwhelming vote at the UN demanding the United States drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reports RNZ Pacific.

US President Donald Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favour.

A total of 128 countries — including New Zealand — backed the resolution, which is non-binding, nine voted against — including Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Nauru — and 35 abstained.

Twenty-one countries, including Samoa and Tonga, did not cast a vote.

New Zealand supported the UN resolution calling for the US to withdraw a decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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New Zealand’s longstanding foreign policy position supports a two-state solution.

President Trump’s move overturned decades of American foreign policy and defied world opinion.

The 35 abstentions included Australia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tuvalu.

US ‘leadership role’
Australian UN Ambassador Gillian Bird said Australia wanted to see the US play a leadership role in brokering peace and abstained from the vote, saying: “We do not wish to see any party isolated from the process.”

“There is much in this resolution with which we agree,” Bird told the General Assembly after the vote.

“We do not, however, consider that this further resolution in addition to the many on the peace process issued by the general assembly helps brings the parties back to the negotiating table.

Nevertheless, Washington found itself isolated as many of its Western and Arab allies voted for the measure.

Some of those allies, like Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, are major recipients of US military or economic aid, although the US threat to cut aid did not single out any country.

A spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the vote “a victory for Palestine” but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the vote as “preposterous”.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told the 193-member General Assembly ahead of Thursday’s vote: “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.”

Australia was joined by Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan in abstaining.

Micronesian nations
Guatemala, Honduras and Togo joined the Micronesian Pacific countries, formerly administered by Washington as a UN trust territory, US and Israel in voting no.

According to figures from the US government’s aid agency USAID, in 2016 the US provided some $US13 billion in economic and military assistance to countries in sub-Saharan Africa and $US1.6 billion to states in East Asia and Oceania.

The General Assembly vote was called at the request of Arab and Muslim countries after the United States vetoed the same resolution on Monday in the 15-member UN Security Council.

The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favour of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the US or Trump but expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.

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Palestinian rally in Auckland supports ‘Day of Rage’ for free Jerusalem

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Palestinian rally in Auckland supports ‘Day of Rage’ for free Jerusalem

As Palestinians protest against US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Democracy Now! profiles the issues. Video: Democracy Now!

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Nearly 400 Aucklanders, from a wide variety of backgrounds, joined in an impromptu rally and peaceful march today for a Free Jerusalem – “the heart of Palestine”.

The protest was called by the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network in urgent response to US President Donald Trump’s proclamation that the US considered Jerusalem to be the “capital of Israel” and to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Palestinian families at the weekend Auckland rally in support of the “Day of Rage” protests over the US move on Jerusalem. Image: David Robie/PMC

The rally came as   a “Day of Rage” protests continued for a fourth day across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The demonstrations yesterday came as Palestinian leaders were to meet in Ramallah to firm up a response to US President Donald Trump’s controversial move.

In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas as they charged – some on horseback – through a crowd of at least 100 peaceful demonstrators in Salah Eddin, one of the city’s busiest shopping streets, reports Al Jazeera.

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At least 13 Palestinians were detained and 12 injured as Israeli troops pushed and beat demonstrators at the scene. Among those held was Jihad Abu Zneid, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Before her arrest, Abu Zneid told Al Jazeera the protesters were determined to “never give up”.

In Cairo, the head of the Arab League called President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem as “dangerous and unacceptable” and a “flagrant attack on a political solution” to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

The statement by Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the regional bloc’s secretary-general, came at the start of an emergency meeting of foreign ministers from 22 Arab states in Egypt’s capital.

Shut Israeli embassy call
In Auckland, Kia Ora Gaza reports that after short, passionate speeches by justice campaigners, union leaders and spokespersons from the local Palestinian community, the rally unanimously endorsed a resolution to “demand the NZ government strongly oppose the US president’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”, and as an act of sanction, “shut down the Israeli embassy in Wellington”.

Mike Treen, national director of the Unite Union, told the crowd that his union moved a motion supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) to sever ties with Israel, which was passed by the CTU.

One protester, Ricardo, reflected on today’s march: “There’s something awesome about communities that are often ‘invisibilised’ by mainstream politics coming together and making their voices heard.”

“Members of the Palestinian community in Aotearoa/New Zealand (and supporters) came out to protest against Trump appointing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The demands were clear: For the government to shut down its Israeli embassy and for the Government to openly and strongly condemn the Trump’s administration for these actions that are already a fanning the flames of conflict.

I have always held a lot of solidarity with Palestinians, having grown up by the US/Mexico border, another example of border imperialism that has displaced and dispossessed many. I hope one day we can fully dismantle these institutions that continue to divide us.”

Democracy Now! has featured women Palestinian writers and campaigners denouncing the US president’s move.

The independent multimedia programme East Jerusalem to spoke with Budour Hassan, a Palestinian writer and project coordinator for the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights in east Jerusalem; Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace; and were  We joined in Ramallah by Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian politician and scholar.

The Palestinian solidarity march down Auckland’s Queen Street from Aotea Square to protest at the US Consulate on Saturday. Image: Roger Fowler/Kia Ora Gaza

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