World urges settlement of Jerusalem issue through negotiations as U.S. vetoes draft resolution

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-19 13:55:02|Editor: Yamei
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (R, front) vetoes a UN Security Council draft resolution on the status of Jerusalem at the UN headquarters in New York, on Dec. 18, 2017. The United States on Monday vetoed a Security Council draft resolution on the status of Jerusalem. All other 14 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted text. But as the United States, which is a permanent member of the Security Council, has veto power, the draft resolution failed to be adopted. (Xinhua/UN Photo)

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The international community called on involved parties to hold negotiations to determine the status of Jerusalem after the United States on Monday vetoed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution.

The Egyptian Ambassador to the United Nations, Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, said that the draft resolution sought to ensure that any attempts to alter the characteristics or demographic composition of the Old City of Jerusalem would have no effect, were null and void, and must be rescinded.

It also called on all parties not to establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

The other 14 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the Egypt-drafted text but as the United States, a permanent member of the UNSC, has veto power, the draft resolution failed to be adopted.

In explaining the veto, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said it was the first U.S. veto in the Security Council in more than six years.

"We do it with no joy, but we do it with no reluctance," she told the Security Council.

Despite the fact that the vote was 14-1, Haley said the veto was not a source of embarrassment for the United States. "It should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council," she said, arguing that her country had the sovereign right to determine where or whether to establish its embassy in another country.

The other members of the Security Council hold that Israel has no sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, an issue that should be solved by the Israelis and Palestinians through negotiations.

Matthew Rycroft, the British ambassador to the United Nations, said his country disagrees with the U.S. decisions to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

"These decisions are unhelpful to the prospects of peace in the region, an aim that all of us in this council remain committed (to)," he told the Security Council after the vote.

"The British embassy in Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it," he added.

Rycroft said the British position on Jerusalem was clear and long-standing: "The status of Jerusalem should be determined through a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states."

Britain regards East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967, as part of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Wu Haitao, charge d'affaires of China's permanent mission to the United Nations, said the issue of Palestine, which is at the core of Middle East peace, is complicated and sensitive.

The issue of Jerusalem is particularly complicated and sensitive, and involves the basis for finding a solution to the Palestinian issue, he said.

A series of Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2334, made stipulations on the issue of Jerusalem. The draft resolution put to vote on Monday is in line with previous Security Council resolutions and is a continuation of the contents and spirit of past resolutions, said Wu, explaining China's "yes" vote on the draft resolution.

China has consistently supported and pushed forward the Middle East peace process, he said.

"We support the just cause of restoring the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, support the establishment of a fully sovereign, independent State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Such a position of China will not change."

French ambassador to the United Nations Francois Delattre regretted the outcome of the vote, saying adoption should have been a foregone conclusion as the draft was in line with international consensus over the status of Jerusalem that was built in the past decades.

The decisions by U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 6 to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem did not modify the common foundation on which all peace agreements must be based, he told the Security Council. "France does not recognize any sovereignty over Jerusalem."

"The result of the vote today translates the will of 14 members of this council to reaffirm their collective attachment to international law, in particular resolutions of this council, on a central issue, namely the status of Jerusalem. This is decisive for any prospects for peace. It underscores the willingness of the broad majority of the members of the council to not recognize any decision contrary to its resolutions."

Given its important role in Middle East peace, it is incumbent on the Americans to explain the compatibility of the Dec. 6 announcement with international consensus, without which no credible effort of peace can be conducted, he said.

Without agreement on Jerusalem, there will be no peace agreement, he noted.

France and the European Union believe that Jerusalem must be the capital of both states of Israel and Palestine according to modalities that must be defined by the parties through negotiations, he said. "No unilateral decision can replace this."

There is no alternative to a two-state solution, said the French envoy.

Earlier on Monday during a Security Council debate on the Middle East situation, Nikolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, observed that violence flared up in the wake of the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Since Dec. 6, the situation has become more tense with an increase in incidents, notably rockets fired from Gaza and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, Mladenov told the Security Council.

From Sept. 20 to Dec. 18, altogether 28 rockets and 12 mortar rounds were fired from Gaza toward Israel. In response, the Israeli Defense Forces continued to target a number of Hamas and Islamic Jihad military posts across the Gaza Strip in which two Palestinian militants and one civilian were killed, with at least 28 people injured, he said.

Since Dec. 7, there has been a visible increase in rockets fired by Gaza militants. Of the 40 projectiles fired between Sept. 20 and Dec. 18, 27 have been launched since Hamas called for an escalation. Four rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. At least eight more rockets landed in Israel.

"I am particularly concerned as to the future of our collective efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians," he said, warning that there is a growing risk that the parties may revert to more unilateral actions.

In the current environment, the continued absence of a credible proposal, which can become the basis of meaningful negotiations, is damaging the prospects for peace. The lack of significant steps on the ground that protect the viability of a two-state solution and support Palestinian statehood is undermining moderates and empowering radicals, he warned.