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UN Approves Resolution Rejecting US Decision on Jerusalem


Delegates gather at the General Assembly, prior to a vote, Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday in an emergency special session to reject U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The U.N. resolution was approved with 128 "yes" votes, nine "no" votes, and 35 abstentions.

Before the vote, Trump and his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, had threatened to cut off aid to member states that voted in favor of the resolution.

Speaking before the resolution was approved, Haley said: “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attacks in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations.”

United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, addresses the General Assembly prior to the vote on Jerusalem, on December 21, 2017
United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, addresses the General Assembly prior to the vote on Jerusalem, on December 21, 2017

Earlier this month, Trump reversed years of U.S. policy in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The decision led to anger and protests from Palestinians and across the Arab world.

Israel considers Jerusalem its indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in eastern Jerusalem. Israel captured that area in the Six-Day War in 1967. However, the move was never recognized internationally.

On Thursday, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas thanked countries that voted in favor of the resolution despite, in his words "all the pressure exerted on them.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he completely rejects the “preposterous” U.N. resolution. He said in a video published on Facebook that Jerusalem “always was, always will be Israel’s capital.” He also thanked Trump for his defense of Israel.

While Thursday’s vote was a victory for Palestinians, fewer U.N. members voted “yes” than expected. Observers had predicted at least 150 “yes” votes.

The United States vetoed a similar draft resolution on Monday in the 15-member U.N. Security Council. The remaining 14 members voted in favor of it. However, the U.S. used its veto power to block its adoption.

Haley said after Monday's vote, "The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy." Trump has said he plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Haley also warned other countries in a letter before Thursday's vote. At the U.N., several diplomats said they had received Haley’s letter, but did not plan to change their position.

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, center, talks with members of the General Assembly prior to a vote, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017
Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, center, talks with members of the General Assembly prior to a vote, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017

Thursday’s emergency General Assembly session was requested by Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour. Mansour said he hoped the measure would receive "overwhelming support."

General Assembly resolutions are non-binding. Rather, they demonstrate the majority opinion of the international community.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Ashley Thompson adapted this story for Learning English based on VOA News and Associated Press news reports. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

abstention - n. a formal refusal to vote on something

single out - phrasal verb. to treat or to speak about (someone or something in a group) in a way that is different from the way you treat or speak about others

contribution - n. a regular payment that is made to an organization

exert - v. to cause pressure, force in order to have an effect

preposterous - adj. very foolish or silly

overwhelming - adj. very great in number, effect or force

non-binding - adj. not officially required or not able to be enforced

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