More than 120 countries have defied President Donald Trump and voted in favour of a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Mr Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favour, but a total of 128 countries backed the resolution, 35 abstained, and nine voted against.
However, the US leader’s threat appeared to have some impact, with more countries abstaining — including Australia — and rejecting the resolution than usually associated with Palestinian-related resolutions.
Nevertheless, Washington found itself isolated on the world stage as many of its Western and Arab allies voted for the measure.
Meanwhile, Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Nauru and Togo joined the US and Israel in voting no.
Trump thumped at UN
US President Donald Trump has made it clear it wouldn’t just be when the next UN payment was due that the US would remember how countries voted on Jerusalem, but when any country needed a favour.
In the end most countries didn’t care.
Major US allies like Britain, France, Germany and Japan voted in favour of the resolution which was co-sponsored by Turkey and Yemen.
The resolution is non-binding and will have about as much effect as the “angry letter” Hans Blix threatens to send Kim Jong-il in the Team America satire.
It does show the scale of the international opposition to Mr Trump’s new direction for American foreign policy.
His decision has proved very popular at home, particularly with his evangelical base.
But in places like London, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo, the highest levels of government have made their opposition clear.
And Mr Trump has made it just as clear that the new administration frankly doesn’t care.
Analysis by North America correspondent Conor Duffy
A spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the vote “a victory for Palestine”, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the resolution as “preposterous”.
“Jerusalem is our capital. Always was, always will be,” Mr Netanyahu said.
Ahead of the vote, the United States said it was “singled out for attack” at the United Nations over Jerusalem, which holds Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites.
“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the 193-member General Assembly.
“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations.
“And so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”
Earlier this month, Mr Trump reversed decades of US policy by announcing the United States recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move its embassy there.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who were furious over Mr Trump’s move.
The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the full city — Israel captured East Jerusalem in a 1967 war and Palestinians want it as the capital of a future state they seek.
The resolution reaffirmed 10 Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
It “affirms that 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”.
The draft resolution “demands that all states comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the holy city of Jerusalem, and not to recognise any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions”.
Turkey says US cannot buy democracy, Australia abstains
The vote was called at the request of Arab and Muslim countries — the United States, backing its ally Israel, vetoed the resolution on Monday in the 15-member UN Security Council.
The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favour of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Mr Trump but which expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told the United States it could not buy Turkey’s support in Thursday’s vote.
“Mr Trump, you cannot buy Turkey’s democratic will with your dollars,” Mr Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.
“I hope and expect the United States won’t get the result it expects from there [the United Nations] and the world will give a very good lesson to the United States.”
Among the countries that abstained were Australia, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.
Australian UN Ambassador Gillian Bird said Australia wanted to see the US continue to play a leadership role in brokering peace and abstained from the vote.
“There is much in this resolution with which we agree,” Ms Bird told the General Assembly after the vote.
“We do not, however, consider that this further resolution in addition to the many on the peace process issued by the general assembly helps brings the parties back to the negotiating table.
“We do not wish to see any party isolated from the process and so we’ve abstained on this occasion.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the United Nations as a “house of lies” ahead of the vote.
“The State of Israel totally rejects this vote, even before [the resolution’s] approval,” Mr Netanyahu said in a speech in the port city of Ashdod.