United Nations Position on Jerusalem Unchanged, Special Coordinator Stresses, as Security Council Debates United States Recognition of City

SC/13111
8 December 2017
8128th Meeting (AM)

United Nations Position on Jerusalem Unchanged, Special Coordinator Stresses, as Security Council Debates United States Recognition of City

Permanent Representative Defends Decision, as Delegations Endorse Two-State Solution, Determination of Final Status Issues

The abiding position of the United Nations on Jerusalem was that the city remained a final status issue to be determined through a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to be negotiated between the two sides concerned on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions and other agreements, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Security Council today.

Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov was briefing Council members during a special meeting called in the wake of President Donald Trump’s 6 December announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy to that city from Tel Aviv.  He reported that although the announcement had been widely welcomed in Israel, it had caused much anger among Palestinians and anxiety across the Middle East.

He expressed particular concern about the potential for an escalation of violence, noting that widespread demonstrations and clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli security forces had occurred throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the decision.  There had also been protests in Arab areas within Israel, and in cities around the region and beyond, he noted.

Urging all political, religious and community leaders to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and instead engage in dialogue, he declared:  “It is now more important than ever that we preserve the prospects for peace.”  He cautioned that it was ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who would suffer from further violence, reiterating that the legitimate national aspirations of both sides could only be achieved through a negotiated two‑State solution.

The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine denounced the decision, saying the United States had essentially disqualified itself from its leadership role in the quest for Middle East peace.  He underlined Jerusalem’s great significance for the Palestinian people, describing the city’s status as a priority and a “red line” for them.  There could be no just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine without a just solution to the question of Jerusalem, he reiterated.  Pointing out that no country had ever recognized Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, he said the city’s status remained unresolved and was a final status issue in the Middle East peace process.  Actions contravening Council resolutions lacked legal effect and could not change the applicability of international law to the situation, he said.  One side could not continue to monopolize the peace process, especially one that acted in biased favour of the occupying Power at the expense of the law and the rights of the occupied people.

Israel’s representative, on the other hand, applauded the courage and sound moral judgment of the United States in righting historical wrongs and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  From the moment of the country’s founding, the Government had vowed to create a State that would honour a democracy that respected and valued the traditions of all peoples, he said.  Wednesday’s announcement had revealed a sad truth about people who threatened to ignite violence against Israel and Jews everywhere, he added, emphasizing that such people may claim to want peace, but their actions spoke louder than words.  The Palestinians could choose violence, as they had always done, or they could join Israel at the negotiating table, with respect and an eye to the future, he said.

Egypt’s representative recalled the legal parameters in place concerning Jerusalem, emphasizing that following international law was the only way to address the issue.  Invoking binding Security Council resolutions relating to Jerusalem’s status, he recalled that they requested that States differentiate Israel’s territory from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.  In light of that city’s spiritual and historic significance for Muslims, Egypt was seriously concerned about the potential repercussions of the decision by the United States for regional stability, he said.

The United Kingdom’s representative said his delegation disagreed with the decision, and affirmed that Jerusalem’s status should not be determined before a final status agreement had been reached.  He expressed deep concern about developments on the ground, including the expansion of settlements, and particularly in East Jerusalem, saying they constituted a barrier to a lasting solution, alongside terrorism and incitement.

Defending her country’s decision, the representative of the United States reminded Council members that the United States had not taken a position on boundaries or borders, saying questions would be decided by Israel and the Palestinians.  Emphasizing Israel’s right to determine its own capital city, she said it was simple common sense to locate foreign embassies there, noting that United States embassies around the world were hosted in capital cities, and Israel should be no different.  The United States would not be lectured by countries that had not treated both sides fairly, she stressed, affirming that her country enjoyed credibility with both Israel and the Palestinians.  Israel should not be bullied into an agreement by the United States or any other country, she added.

The Russian Federation’s representative stressed, however, that as a member of the Quartet for Middle East Peace, his country supported the active involvement of regional players, particularly Egypt and Jordan.  Moreover, the Russian Federation could hold a summit between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders, he said, adding that Moscow was still awaiting the long‑promised proposal from the United States in that regard.  It was as important as ever to relaunch a sensible peace process based on a two‑State solution, he said, adding that the Quartet remained unique as a mediation mechanism.

Senegal’s representative urged strict respect for the status quo in Jerusalem, in accordance with internationally established parameters.  For Senegal, the question of Jerusalem should depend on the determination of final status issues.  He called for peace at sacred sites, describing the violence around them as an unfortunate result of the decision by the United States.  Senegal called for a return to the spirit of sharing that had prevailed 70 years ago, amid prospects for the creation of two States, Israel and Palestine, he said.

Representatives of Sweden, France, Bolivia, Uruguay, Italy, China, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Japan and Jordan also spoke.

The meeting began at 11:12 a.m. and ended at 1:17 p.m.

Briefing

NICKOLAY MLADENOV, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that of all the complex issues to be resolved in the Israeli‑Palestinian peace process, “Jerusalem is perhaps the most emotionally charged and difficult subject”.  He added:  “For both Israelis and Palestinians, Jerusalem is and will always remain an integral part of their identity.”  The United Nations position was clear, he emphasized.  “Jerusalem is a final status issue for which a comprehensive, just and lasting solution must be achieved through negotiations between the two parties and on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions and mutual agreements.”

Recalling that President Donald Trump of the United States had announced two days ago his country’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he noted, however, that the President had said final status issues, including the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty, remained for the parties to determine.  The President had also reaffirmed his commitment to advancing the peace process and called for the status quo at the holy sites to be respected.  While renewing the six‑month waiver by which the United States embassy remained in Tel Aviv, he said, the President’s announcement signalled preparations for moving it to Jerusalem.

He went on to state that the announcement had been widely welcomed in Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanking President Trump while also reaffirming his commitment to the status quo at the holy sites.  President Reuven Rivlin had affirmed that Jerusalem was not an obstacle to peace, he added.  On the other hand, the development had caused much anger among Palestinians, as well as anxiety across the Middle East and beyond.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had condemned it, warning of negative consequences for the peace process and security, he said, noting that Hamas had called for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to withdraw its recognition of Israel.

Expressing particular concern about the potential for an escalation of violence, he said that, in anticipation of such a decision, Fatah and Hamas had called for three days of rage, to take place from 6 to 8 December.  Some had called for 8 December to mark the start of a new uprising or intifada.  There had been widespread demonstrations and clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli security forces throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and at least one death and dozens of injuries had been reported.  There also had been protests in Arab areas within Israel, as well as in cities around the region and beyond.  Rockets had reportedly been fired from Gaza towards Israel, and a Hamas military installation had been shelled in response.

Acknowledging again the deep feelings evoked by Jerusalem, he nevertheless urged all political, religious and community leaders to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, calling on all to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue.  “It is now more important than ever that we preserve the prospects for peace,” he said, stressing that it was ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who would suffer from further violence.  The legitimate national aspirations of both sides could only be achieved by a negotiated two‑State solution.

He went on to underline:  “It is up to all of us in the international community, as much as it is up to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, to urgently advance a just and lasting resolution to this conflict.”  Without a solution, “it risks being engulfed in the vortex of religious radicalism,” he said, warning that a chain of unilateral actions could only push the goal of peace farther away.  “It will be critical in the coming days that leaders demonstrate their wisdom and make all efforts to reduce the rhetoric, prevent incitement and rein in radical elements, he stressed, affirming that the United Nations remained committed to working with the parties and with international and regional partners to achieve peace through a comprehensive agreement.

Statements

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said he had requested today’s emergency meeting alongside Bolivia, Egypt, France, Italy, Senegal, United Kingdom and Uruguay in anticipation of repercussions following the statement by the President of the United States.  The group disagreed with that country’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and its plan for a future move of its embassy to Jerusalem, primarily because it contradicted international law and Security Council resolutions.  The European Union’s position was that Jerusalem was the future capital of two States, he said, adding that the city’s status could only be resolved through negotiations and that the unilateral statement by the United States President did not affect that position.  The second reason the group disagreed with such a recognition of Jerusalem was that it fuelled tensions and instability in an already volatile and turbulent region.  Thirdly, it risked prejudging the outcome of negotiations on final status issues, and thus, threatened the prospects for peace.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the issue at hand set a dangerous precedent.  Explaining that the question of Al‑Quds Al‑Sharif was rooted in history, he said generations of followers of the three Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — had been linked to the city for hundreds of years.  In modern times, the international community had put legal parameters in place on that issue, and the only way to address it was to follow international law, he emphasized.  Invoking the most important binding Security Council resolutions relating to the city’s status, including resolutions 242 (1967), 478 (1980) and 2334 (2016), he recalled that they requested that States differentiate Israel’s territory from the territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.

For dozens of years, he recalled, those resolutions had been considered the law governing the city’s status, and they were binding because all countries had pledged to implement and abide by them in the maintenance of international peace and security.  Indeed, they represented the only reality and logic on Al‑Quds Al‑Sharif, he added.  As such, Egypt denounced the decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move its embassy there.  Jerusalem was under occupation, and it was therefore not legally permissible to take any action that would alter the status quo.  He expressed serious concern over the decision’s potential repercussions in terms of regional stability in light of the city’s spiritual and historic significance for Muslims, emphasizing that Egypt would always uphold its pledge to reaching a fair, just and durable peace in the region based on the parameters of international legitimacy.

MATTHEW JOHN RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said his country’s position on the status of Jerusalem was clear and long‑standing:  it should be determined through a negotiated settlement between Palestinians and Israelis.  The city should be a shared capital for the Israeli and Palestinian States, he emphasized, pointing out that East Jerusalem was a part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  As such, the United Kingdom disagreed with the decision by the United States, taken before a final status agreement had been reached, he said, describing such decisions as unhelpful.  The United Kingdom’s embassy in Israel was in Tel Aviv, and there were no plans to move it, he said.

Emphasizing that his country shared President Trump’s desire to end the conflict, and his acknowledgement of the importance of Jerusalem and its sovereign boundaries, he said that, as such, it remained committed to an Israeli‑Palestinian peace agreement, with land swaps reflecting the national and religious interests of both sides.  However, that outcome must be determined through a final status agreement, including a fair solution for refugees.  Jerusalem held great significance for Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and it was important to maintain the status quo at the holy sites, he said, recognizing Jordan’s important role in that regard.

The United Kingdom was also deeply concerned about developments on the ground, including the expansion of settlements, particularly in East Jerusalem, he said, describing that activity, alongside terrorism and incitement, as a barrier to a lasting solution.  Reaffirming the United Kingdom’s strong support for renewed peace negotiations supported by the international community, he pointed out that more than 320,000 Palestinians lived in East Jerusalem.  They were permanent residents whose permits could be revoked at any time, he said, underlining that their status must not be forgotten in any peace effort.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (FRANCE) expressed regret over the decision by the President of the United States to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to prepare for the transfer of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Those decisions had not modified the parameters of any future settlement as set forth under international law.  The status of Jerusalem should be determined by the parties in the context of a peace agreement. In the absence of such an accord, France had not recognized any sovereignty over Jerusalem.  Citing resolutions 476 (1980) and 478 (1980), outlining that any measure to alter the status of Jerusalem would be deemed null and void, he said resolution 2334 (2016) was a reminder that no modification of the 1967 borders, other than one acknowledged by the parties, would be recognized by the international community.  Without an agreement on Jerusalem, there could be no peace agreement.  The city’s historical significance in the eyes of all parties made it key to any resolution to the conflict and to regional and international stability.  If the international community failed to take action, a political conflict could morph into an insurmountable religious conflict.  Jerusalem should become the capital of two States, Israel and Palestine, to be determined through negotiations.  There was no alternative to a two‑State solution.  Expressing concern about clashes in Gaza and East Jerusalem, he called for restraint to restore calm.  He also called for a return to the negotiations table, saying that there were no shortcuts towards the difficult path to peace.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (BOLIVIA) said that the unilateral decision of the United States contravened international law and undermined peace prospects between Israel and Palestine, exacerbating the already unstable situation in the Middle East and feeding the violence of radicals. He expressed Bolivia’s firm commitment to international efforts geared towards a peaceful solution to the conflict, and support for both the Quartet [for Middle East Peace] road map and the Madrid Principles, so that both peoples could live within recognized and secure borders.  He also supported a two‑State solution with a free and independent Palestinian State, respecting 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Meanwhile, he highlighted that Israel and Palestine were not on a level playing field:  One party used force to occupy the territory of and forcibly displace the other.  The current situation led parties away from the two‑State solution.  Calls for dialogue were insufficient, he said, pressing the Council to take measures; otherwise, it too would become an occupied territory.  He went on to call for an end to the occupation and breach to international law.

ELBIO OSCAR ROSSELLI FRIERI (Uruguay) said the significance of Jerusalem was the reason why it had been accorded a special status.  He reaffirmed support for Council resolutions 181 (1947) and 478 (1980), expressing concern and disagreement with the United States decision, which did not contribute to the climate of respect necessary for achieving peace.  He reaffirmed the special status of Jerusalem in keeping with relevant United Nations resolutions, stressing that its sovereignty and limits should be resolved through bilateral negotiations.  The two‑State solution was the only viable way to maintain peace and find a fair and lasting solution.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) said his Government’s position on Jerusalem remained unchanged, according to the international consensus based on relevant United Nations resolutions.  The status of Jerusalem as the capital of two States must be negotiated, taking into account the aspirations of both parties.  Until then, Italy would abide by relevant resolutions and maintain its embassy in Tel Aviv.  He expressed concern about the risk of unrest in the region, and called on all actors to refrain from violence or incitement.  There was no alternative to the two‑State solution, and Italy would continue working towards that goal, he emphasized.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) called for strict respect for the status quo in Jerusalem, in accordance with internationally established parameters.  For Senegal, the question of Jerusalem should depend on final status issues.  He called for the restoration of peace to sacred sites, describing the violence as an unfortunate result of the United States decision.  In that context, Senegal condemned violence by anyone and called upon all stakeholders to maintain the city’s current status ahead of any peace agreement.  He also called for a return to the spirit of sharing that had prevailed 70 years ago, amid prospects for the creation of two States, Israel and Palestine.

NIKKI HALEY (United States) said Jerusalem was the spiritual home of the Jewish people and the capital of the State of Israel, despite attempts by others to deny them.  Previous United States Governments had delayed a decision on the issue in hopes of reaching an agreement that never arrived, she said.  Nevertheless, the people of the United States overwhelmingly supported the concept and President Trump had made a decision to no longer deny their will.  She reminded the Council that the United States had not taken a position on boundaries or borders, which would still be decided by Israel and the Palestinians.  The President’s decision did not predetermine final status issues, she said, adding that it supported a two‑State solution, if supported by the parties.

Emphasizing Israel’s right to determine its own capital city, she said it was simple common sense to locate foreign embassies there.  United States embassies around the world were hosted in capital cities, and Israel should be no different.  While change was hard, the world should never doubt what the truth could do, she stressed, noting that peace could happen.  She assured those expressing concern that the President of the United States remained committed to the peace process, and described anyone using his decision as a pretext for violence as unfit partners for peace.  The United Nations had been hostile to Israel and had damaged prospects for peace that helped it, she said.

She went on to underline that the United States would not be lectured by countries that had not treated both sides fairly, affirming that her country enjoyed credibility with both sides.  Israel should not be bullied into an agreement by the United States or any other country.  As for the Palestinians, she said her country had demonstrated its deep commitment to a peace agreement over many years, including through its financial resources and diplomatic energy.  The conflict was not only about the past, she noted, stressing that it must be about future generations.  Both Israeli and Palestinian children deserved a future of peace, and hope for a brighter future.  She urged all countries to temper their statements and actions in the days ahead.

WU HAITAO (China), noting that the question of Palestine was fundamental to achieving peace in the Middle East, expressed concern over recent developments in that context.  A series of United Nations resolutions, including resolution 2324 (2016), contained provisions regarding the status of Jerusalem, and any unilateral decision could trigger new confrontations in the region.  He urged the parties concerned to consider the overall interests of peace in the Middle East and avoid any action that might exacerbate tensions.  China had always firmly supported the Middle East peace process.  As such, it supported the Palestinian people and the establishment of a fully sovereign independent State of Palestine along 1967 borders.  The two‑State solution was the right way forward, and as a permanent and responsible Council member, China would continue to play a constructive role in that regard.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) recalled that the chair of the African Union Commission had called for renewed efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.  As such, it had expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people, and support for a sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  He expressed concern about the decision under consideration, because unilateral measures were bound to cause “incalculable damage”.  Taking into account the legitimate concerns of both parties, there was only one viable, realistic and sustainable option for resolving the conflict:  the two‑State solution.  The latest development had begun to roil the Middle East, which already faced its fair share of complex challenges that could affect global security.  It was critical to limit the damage that might be caused and save the two‑State solution, beyond paying lip service to it, he stressed.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said the status of Jerusalem was a final status issue that should be resolved through negotiations.  He urged the United Nations to redouble its efforts on the Middle East peace process.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said there was a unity in the Council that peace in the Middle East was important, and any unilateral action to change the status quo was a cause of great concern.  He called for the maintenance of the status quo, in accordance with previously agreed international agreements.  The ultimate goal was restoration of the peace process.  Underscoring that there was no alternative to a two‑State solution, he called on both parties to refrain from provocative actions and resume direct negotiations.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) noted that the United States decision on Jerusalem had been greeted with criticism in the Arab world, with PLO and Hamas having called for strikes and protest marches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  Moscow had greeted the decision with serious concern because a reliable solution to the conflict should be based on international law, including United Nations resolutions, he said.  Those resolutions stipulated that, because of the sensitive nature of the Jerusalem question, it should be resolved through direct Israeli‑Palestinian negotiations.  As such, the Russian Federation was concerned that the United States decision risked further complicating the situation in the Middle East.

Calling upon all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that might have dangerous consequences, he emphasized that his delegation’s position remained unchanged.  The Russian Federation was deeply committed to a peace agreement entailing a long‑term settlement of the conflict, internationally acknowledged borders, and recognition of an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.  West Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel.  As a member of the Quartet for Middle East Peace, the Russian Federation would provide assistance in reaching agreement, he said, affirming that there was no alternative to a two‑State solution.  Any decision taken without considering the interests of all parties involved could not prove viable, he cautioned.

He went on to stress his delegation’s support for the active involvement of regional players, particularly Egypt and Jordan.  Moreover, the Russian Federation could hold a summit between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders, he said, adding that Moscow was still awaiting the long‑promised proposal from the United States in that regard.  He said his delegation had sought an explanation of its latest decision, calling attention to the fears expressed by the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  Under such conditions, it was as important as ever before to relaunch a sensible peace process based on a two‑State solution, he said, pointing out that, as such, the Quartet for Middle East Peace remained a unique mediation mechanism.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, emphasizing that Jerusalem’s final status was part of a range of issues that should be resolved through negotiations.  Japan was concerned that the United States announcement on Jerusalem could lead to a worsening environment for the Middle East peace process and the deterioration of the situation of the wider Middle East.  Japan was also deeply worried about heightening tensions on the ground because violence could easily snowball into larger crises.  Against the current backdrop, it was vital to create an environment conducive to peace, and bring both sides closer to meaningful negotiations.  Implementation of such initiatives was key, he emphasized, calling upon both Israelis and Palestinians to engage sincerely and grasp opportunities for peace.

RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that President Trump’s announcement on 6 December declaring recognition by the United States of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as the decision to move its embassy there, directly contravened Security Council resolutions and the long‑standing international consensus.  The occupying Power had blatantly instigated the current situation, he said, adding that, rather than comply with the Council’s repeated demands to cease its violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Government of Israel persisted in those crimes.  It had bullied world leaders into endorsing its illegal policies and practices in Jerusalem, he noted.

The decision by the United States to reward Israel’s impunity undermined and essentially disqualified its leadership role in the quest for peace in the region, he continued.  The rejection of that provocative decision by world leaders underscored the immense concern over its dangerous implications, including in relation to the prospects for peace and security in the region and beyond.  In that context, the State of Palestine urged upholding and ensuring respect for the relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 478 (1980) and 2334 (2016), he said, calling upon the United States to reconsider and rescind the decision.

Underlining Jerusalem’s great significance to the Palestinian people as well as to Muslims and Christians, he said the city was a priority matter and a “red line” for Palestinians.  There could be no just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine without a just solution to the question of Jerusalem, he emphasized.  Pointing out that no country had ever recognized Israel as sovereign over Jerusalem, he cited Security Council and General Assembly resolutions in affirming that Jerusalem’s status remained unresolved as a final status issue in the Middle East peace process.  Moreover, East Jerusalem remained occupied territory since 1967 and an integral part of the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Actions contravening Council resolutions had no legal effect and could not change the applicability of international law to the situation, he emphasized.

The occupied territory of the State of Palestine — encompassing the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — was a legal and political fact, and no policy announcement could change that reality or negate the rights of the Palestinian people.  Urging the Council to denounce the United States decision and assert its authority in efforts to resolve the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict, he reiterated his call upon the United States to rescind the decision.  Meanwhile, States that had not recognized the State of Palestine — with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of the 1967 borders — should do so urgently, he said, noting that that would represent an important contribution to salvaging the prospects for peace, given recent developments.  Urging Member States not to repeat the same failed formulae and mistakes of the past, he said only a collective effort could resolve the conflict.  One party — especially one acting in biased favour of the occupying Power at the expense of the law and the rights of the occupied people — could not continue to monopolize the peace process, he stressed.

DANNY BEN YOSEF DANON (Israel) declared:  “Jerusalem has and always will be the capital of Israel.”  The embassy of the United States belonged in that city, he added, thanking President Trump for his announcement.  Noting that the “shameful” Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) deemed Israel’s presence at the Western Wall in Jerusalem a flagrant violation under international law, he said President Trump’s decision had therefore been an important one because the United States had the courage and the sound moral judgment to right historical wrongs and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Middle Eastern capitals are not known for tolerance,” he said, pointing out that Israel was freer and more open to people of all faiths than at any other time and under any other authority in history.  All people of all faiths practised their religion freely in Jerusalem, he stressed.  “They are never under threat for praying at their holy sites.”  From the moment of Israel’s founding, its Government had vowed to create a State that would honour such holiness, and a democracy that would respect and value the traditions of all peoples, he said.

Wednesday’s announcement had revealed a sad truth about people who threatened to ignite violence against Israel and Jews everywhere, he said, adding that such people may claim to want peace, but their actions spoke louder than words.  As such, the Council must send a clear message that violence must never be used as a threat.  Palestinians had a decision to make:  they could choose violence, as they had always done, or they could join Israel at the negotiating table, with respect and an eye to the future, he said, emphasizing that President Trump’s announcement should be seen as an opportunity, because recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a critical and necessary step for peace.  He called upon all States to join the United States and move their embassies to Jerusalem.

SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan) said the decision by the United States to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel was a violation of internationally legitimate resolutions confirming that Jerusalem was a final status issue.  Any unilateral decision to build a situation on the ground was therefore null and void.  Such a move only served to exacerbate tensions and could jeopardize any final outcome.  In any case, no security or stability could be achieved without a settlement on a final State for Palestinians, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and respect for the 1967 borders.  The decision perpetuated Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem.  Citing the illegality of settlements built by Israel, she condemned any Israeli measures to create a new reality on the ground, before calling on the United States to be a neutral mediator to reach a lasting peace.  For its part, Jordan would take all measures to help achieve a settlement and realize the legitimate rights of its brotherly Palestinian people.  A meeting would be held by Arab States the following day in Cairo to condemn the United States decision and discuss potential consequences.  Jordan would continue intensive diplomatic efforts at the regional level, pushing towards the end of the occupation, and creation of the Palestinian State.

For information media. Not an official record.