Ahead of UN Jerusalem vote, US says it won’t repeat ‘mistake’ of not using veto

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley defended on Monday her boss Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital ahead of a UN Security Council vote that would require the United States to rescind its declaration, intimating she would not allow the measure to pass and harshly criticizing the body’s “hypocrisy” on Israel.

Speaking at the Security Council ahead of a vote on the Egyptian-backed resolution, Haley said she would not address Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, which as a “sovereign nation” the US has “every right to do.” Instead she took aim at a resolution the Obama administration allowed to pass last December that condemned Israeli construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“For decades, Israel has withstood wave after wave of bias in the UN and its agencies. The United States has often stood beside Israel. We did not on December 23, 2016. We will not make that mistake again,” she said during a Security Council discussion ahead of the debate on the Jerusalem resolution.

That draft resolution will call on the US to rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and calls on all countries to refrain from opening embassies in Jerusalem, reflecting concerns that other governments could follow the US lead.

It demands that all member-states not recognize any actions that are contrary to UN resolutions on the status of the city, though does not mention Trump or the US directly.

The Palestinians had sought a toughly worded draft resolution that would have directly called on the US administration to scrap its decision, but the final version was softened to draw maximum support.

Backed by Muslim countries, the Palestinians are expected to turn to the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution rejecting the US decision, if, as expected, the measure is vetoed by the United States at the council. They are guaranteed an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly, where the vote is non-binding, however.

Britain and France, Washington’s closest allies, said ahead of the Security Council meeting Monday they would back the draft resolution.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre praised the Egyptian draft resolution as a “good text” that is “completely in line” with current UN resolutions that reflect the international consensus on Jerusalem.

Delattre said France will support it and that he expected the “overwhelming majority” of council members to do the same.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the proposed text was in line with London’s position on Jerusalem as an issue that must be resolved through negotiations.

Despite a likely US veto, Rycroft said the United States “will continue to play an extremely important role in the search for peace in the Middle East.”

After a brief open session, the council went into a closed meeting requested by Ukraine, a close US ally, to discuss the measure.

During the opening session, which was called to discuss Resolution 2334, Haley referred to the measure which passed last year as “a stain on America’s conscience,” and said it did the very thing Trump’s critics have condemned — took a position on Jerusalem’s final borders — and by doing so “passed judgment on issues that must be decided in direct negotiations between the parties.”

Criticizing the UN for “injecting itself, yet again, in between the two parties to the conflict,” Haley said the resolution mistakenly placed “the blame for the failure of peace efforts squarely on the Israeli settlements,” while giving the Palestinians further “encouragement to avoid negotiations in the future.”

“As if to make this very point, Resolution 2334 demanded a halt to all Israeli settlement activity in East Jerusalem – even in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This is something that no responsible person or country would ever expect Israel would do,” she said.

Haley also said the UN “consistently singles out Israel for condemnation,” saying it gave ammunition to UN’s Human Rights Council to compose a “blacklist” of companies that operate in the West Bank.

“The United States refuses to accept the double standard that says we are not impartial when we stand by the will of the American people by moving our US embassy, but somehow the United Nations is a neutral party when it consistently singles out Israel for condemnation,” said Haley.

The UN Security Council vote comes after nearly two weeks of international criticism since Trump announced he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6. Trump stressed his decision had no bearing on the final status issues such as the city’s border and called for access to Jerusalem’s holy cites to continue unimpeded.

While the move was welcomed by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, it has been met with widespread anger in the Arab and Muslim world.