Dec 22, 2017

Sri Lanka on ‘Status of Jerusalem’ vote Featured

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement in response to media queries on the Resolution on the ‘Status of Jerusalem’ adopted at the tenth emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on 21 December 2017.

The statement says,

Sri Lanka voted in favour of the resolution titled ‘Status of Jerusalem’ submitted by Yemen and Turkey in their capacity as Chair of the Arab Group and Chair of the Summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation, respectively, at the tenth emergency special session of the UN General Assembly, on 21 December 2017.

This vote in favour of the resolution was on the basis of Sri Lanka’s long held traditional and principled position, which is in keeping with the international understanding that Jerusalem is a final-status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both parties – Palestinians and Israelis, and that Jerusalem should be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian States. The resolution adopted at the tenth emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on 21 December 2017 reaffirms this position, and Sri Lanka’s vote in favour of the resolution was not a vote against any member State of the United Nations.

Sri Lanka stands by its position that it is only by realizing the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine, with all matters resolved permanently through negotiations, that the legitimate aspirations of both parties and sustainable peace can be achieved.

Therefore, Sri Lanka strongly believes that all parties concerned should work with restraint, and focus on creating conditions for direct and meaningful negotiations that can resolve all final status issues required for a negotiated settlement.

The BBC filed the following story titled ‘Jerusalem: UN resolution rejects Trump's declaration:

The UN General Assembly has decisively backed a resolution effectively calling on the US to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The text says that any decisions regarding the status of the city are "null and void" and must be cancelled.

The non-binding resolution was approved by 128 states, with 35 abstaining and nine others voting against.

It came after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut financial aid to those who backed the resolution.

Following the vote, state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US was exploring "various options" and no decisions had yet been made.

How did UN members vote?

The nine who voted against the resolution were the US, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo
Among the 35 abstaining were Canada and Mexico
Those voting in favour included the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia and the UK) as well as key US allies in the Muslim world
There were 21 countries who did not turn up for the vote.

What is so contentious about Jerusalem's status?

The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.

Israel occupied the east of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

What does the UN resolution say?

The 193-member UN General Assembly held the rare emergency special session at the request of Arab and Muslim states, who condemned Mr Trump's decision to reverse decades of US policy earlier this month.

The Palestinians called for the meeting after the US vetoed a Security Council resolution that was similar to the text approved on Thursday.

The text put forward by Turkey and Yemen does not mention the US, but expresses "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem".

It also says "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".

What do Israel and the Palestinians say?

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised to reject the results of the vote, calling the UN a "house of lies".

Afterwards he said in a statement: "Israel thanks President Trump for his unequivocal position in favour of Jerusalem and thanks those countries that voted alongside Israel, alongside the truth."

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the vote "a victory for Palestine".

How does the US see it?

In a speech before the vote, US permanent representative Nikki Haley stressed that the US decision did not prejudge any final status issues, and did not preclude a two-state solution if the parties agreed to that.

"The United States will remember this day, on which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation," she said.

"America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do. And it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that."

On Wednesday, Mr Trump warned he might cut financial aid to states who voted in favour of the resolution.

"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us," he said. "Well, we're watching those votes," he added. "Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care."