Palestinians may circumvent US on Jerusalem at UN Security Council

Is there a way around the US's veto power?

December 18, 2017 16:03
2 minute read.
Palestinians may circumvent US on Jerusalem at UN Security Council

US President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, September 19, 2017. . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Palestinians may seek to circumvent America at the United Nations by appealing to the General Assembly should the Security Council fail to pass a resolution voiding US President Donald Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

The United Nations Security Council is set to debate the resolution on Monday, but although it is presumed to have the support of 14 of the 15 council members, the US is likely to veto the measure.

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Should the US use its veto power, the Palestinian Authority is likely to appeal to the UN Secretary General to hold an emergency session of the General Assembly, its ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour told the English daily Arab News.

To do so, the PA would invoke the Uniting for Peace Resolution 377a, approved in 1950, to neutralize the former Soviet Union’s power at the Security Council, when it was blocking the placement of UN forces in Korea.

Since then, the UNGA has held 10 emergency session under Resolution 377a, half of which have been about Israel.

The last one was opened in 1997 over Israeli construction in Jerusalem’s Har Homa neighborhood, located in east Jerusalem. Some 18 UNGA meetings have been held under that session’s title.

The last such meeting was in 2009, over Israel’s first Gaza war with Hamas.

“If the [Jerusalem] resolution is vetoed, the Palestinian delegation can send a letter to the UN Secretary General and ask him to resume the emergency session,” Mansour told Arab News.

Israel’s former Foreign Ministry legal advisor Alan Baker said that such a move was a “big bluff.”

Such a session can adopt resolutions, “they carry a bigger punch,” but they are not binding, Baker said.

In general, he added, the UN “cannot determine that a declaration by a US president can be legal or illegal, because the declaration itself does not violate any international law,” Baker said.

The UN Security Council has not approved a resolution solely regarding Jerusalem since 1980.

The draft text circulated by Egypt on Sunday was careful to make use of language already used in the 1980 resolution or in past resolutions that touched on Jerusalem.

The resolution stated that it affirmed that “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; and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem, pursuant to resolution 478 (1980) of the Security Council.”
US President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announces embassy to relocate

It demanded that “all States comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.”

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