It was a stinging rebuke. A rebuke for Washington from both allies and adversaries with the UN’s vote on Jerusalem. The non-binding resolution was approved at a UN General Assembly emergency meeting on Thursday.
The subject was President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital -- both Trump and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley issued threats ahead of Thursday’s vote presenting it as a loyalty test for America’s allies and those countries receiving US aid. POTUS threatened nations who didn’t support his decision, and the vast majority didn’t.
128 countries voted against the US, only eight stood by it, while 35 others abstained.
So, what impact will this have on US foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond?
It’s all about absolute disdain
From a purely American perspective, one can’t see the rationale for a president to take a decision based on an attempt to appeal to a domestic base when the outcome could be devastating for US foreign policy.
The notion is that this was very much aimed at a US domestic audience without any concern for what happens in the UN, and how to use the antagonism towards the UN to garner support from the right-wing constituencies which they are trying to strengthen in the US.
It’s a very dangerous game that they’re playing. The opposition wasn’t simply opposed to the US’s move regarding Jerusalem, it was a much broader expression of outrage towards US’s bullying of the UN and UN member states.
The Trump administration is not the first in US history to do this kind of bullying.
Some of the language was very reminiscent of similar threats, bribes, and punishments that were issued by both Bush administrations, when they could not get the support they wanted -- for example the wars against Iraq in 1990 and then again in 2003.
The world leadership has to go back to International Law that says Jerusalem is a separate body, not a part of either Israel or Palestinian state, but Corpus separatum
But the difference here was Trump’s blatant nature nature and insensitivity in going so far as to say that he doesn’t care about the impact of cutting aid to impoverished nations if they dare to vote against the US -- and that’s the real expression of absolute disdain for the rest of the world.
And it appears there will be retaliation that will go beyond this particular vote.
Will Trump be able to deliver on the threats?
Both president and his ambassador to the UN have been very explicit in their desire to deliver on the threats -- and for them not to follow through would be a sign of weakness to their domestic audience -- which, internationally, comes across as blunt arrogance.
US’ “I just doesn’t care” attitude and actions may have its own agenda, but it will, nevertheless, have a massive impact on how other states engage the US.
This is going nowhere
There’s no peace process underway and there hasn’t been all year. There have been some negotiations between Jared Kushner and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and that little “bromance” between the two is mainly caused by their collective intent on building a region-wide coalition against Iran -- and the hope is that they’ll be able to figure out a way to normalise relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel to bring Israel into that coalition.
In order to pacify the Arab public opinion, and even Arab governments that are concerned about the mass outrage at such a thing, they needed to have a show of some sort of peace talks to tell the world: “Don’t worry, the Palestinians are okay and they’re going to be taken care of, Israel is no longer a problem that the US cannot normalise.”
This takes us to the internal domestic politics of the Trump administration, but what’s noteworthy is that we have to see this in the context of 25 years of failure of US leadership in this issue -- a leadership has led nowhere.
There’s no way of a two-state solution to take effect and it’s not about who wants it.
With Israel now having sent 650,000 illegal settlers into Palestinian territory, there is no contiguous territory available to create a state.
So, the notion that there’s going to be a state and two capitals for the two sides is simply not an option as it seems less and less likely now.
So, the point is that the world leadership has to go back to international law that says Jerusalem is a separate body, not a part of either Israel or Palestinian state, but corpus separatum
Md Sharif Hasan is a commentator on international politics and is currently working as a field researcher on behalf of Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS), University of Dhaka.