The reaction at the United Nations to President Donald Trump’s historic announcement on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel was swift — and critical. Minutes after the president’s address, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who rarely engages the press at the world body, came out and read a statement that in part criticized the president’s new policy on Jerusalem.
“From day one as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres said.
While taking no questions from reporters, Guterres said there can be no other way to peace other than the two-state solution: “In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear — there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B.”
Seven members of the U.N. Security Council have requested an emergency meeting on Jerusalem that could come as early as Friday. Those members include the U.K, France, Egypt and Sweden.
Earlier in the day, an outspoken critic of the U.S. and Israel, Ambassador Sacha Llorentty-Soliz of Bolivia, told reporters if Trump went ahead with his decision, it would threaten the peace process and would be “a reckless and a dangerous decision that goes against international law and resolutions of the Security Council.”
While President-elect, Trump took aim at the U.N.’s anti-Israel stance following passage of U.N. Resolution 2334, a legally binding U.N. Security Council resolution that said Israel’s presence in parts of Jerusalem was illegal. The December 2016 vote resulted in the Obama administration famously changing decades of U.S. policy by refusing to veto the anti-Israel measure that said settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was a fragrant violation of international law.
A few days after the resolution passed, Trump tweeted that, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but…” he continued, “not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
A longtime Republican foreign policy advisor close to the White House told Fox News on background that, “The Obama administration secretly helped draft and pass the December 2016 resolution denying Israel’s connection to Jerusalem. President-elect Trump immediately blasted the resolution and promised to end that nonsense. His speech today is exactly what he promised. It is an arrow aimed at the heart of U.N. bias against Israel. “
Concerns over the Security Council resolution and anti-Israel bias have been a consistent feature of U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s tenure in New York.
Haley released a statement on the president’s decision calling the move a “courageous and historic step.” Haley, who visited Israel in June, added, “Across the globe, America has its embassy in the capital city of the host country. Israel will now be no different. It is the just and right thing to do.”
Eugene Kontorovich, head of international law at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a Jerusalem think tank, has testified to Congress on the subject, and said Trump’s decision on Jerusalem is the right one.
“President Trump has complete authority under U.S. and international law to recognize Jerusalem on behalf of the U.S.,” Kontorovich said. “U.N Sec. Res 2344 is entirely non-binding. Nothing in international law prevents this. Moreover, the president has complete constitutional power to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli, as the Supreme Court ruled a few years ago in the Jerusalem passport case.”
Kontorovich, who is a professor of international and constitutional law at Northwestern University, continued, “This is a bold and historic decision, comparable to the President Truman’s recognition of Israel as a state 70 years ago. It rectifies a longstanding absurdity and injustice — treating the capital of the Jewish state as not even part of the country. It also breaks the racist international consensus that holds that Jews cannot live in their holy city’s ancient precincts. It also firmly rejects the view that the 1949 Armistice Lines have any legal status or legitimacy.”
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the world body, hailed Trump’s decision as historic and called on other nations to follow.
“Now is the time for all U.N. member-states to follow the lead of our American friends and recognize our ancient capital of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” he said.