NEW YORK – Seven Caribbean countries defied a threat from United States President Donald Trump and supported a United Nations (UN) resolution that condemned the American leader’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Despite Trump’s warning that he would cut aid to countries that supported the motion, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, and St Vincent and the Grenadines voted ‘yes’ when the non-binding resolution was laid at the 193-member General Assembly last Thursday.
Prior to the vote, Trump sounded a warning that Washington would remember which countries voted against it.
“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, in a letter to dozens of UN states, warned that Trump had asked her to “report back on those countries who voted against us.”
She said in a Twitter post: “The U.S. will be taking names.”
By an overwhelming majority – 128 to 9 – UN Member States supported the longstanding international consensus that the status of Jerusalem – which is claimed as a capital by both Israel and the Palestinians – can only be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant UN resolutions.
The internationally-accepted capital of Israel is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem has special legal and political status.
While no Caribbean member nation of the UN voted against the non-binding resolution yesterday, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Jamaica abstained. There were 35 abstentions in total, including Canada.
St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia were among 21 delegations not present for the vote.
Eight states sided with the US — Nauru, Togo, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Honduras, Guatemala and Israel.
Explaining why Barbados voted in favour of the resolution, Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Maxine McClean told the Barbados Today online newspaper that even though the US has been a friend and the Caribbean nation had supported its American ally on several other issues, the vote on this issue was a matter of principle.
“It was not a vote against the United States. It is a vote that is consistent with a position that we have held for a long time and we are not in the business of changing our position based on threats. We operate on the basis of principle,” she stressed.
“We have always supported a two-state solution, a negotiated solution, and from our perspective the [Trump] decision does not facilitate that.”
Earlier this month, when President Trump had indicated he was willing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, St Vincent and the Grenadines publicly declared its position on the matter. A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said any such recognition would imperil the internationally-agreed two-state solution, destabilize the Middle East region, and invalidate the important role of the US as an honest broker and driver of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“St Vincent and the Grenadines strongly urges the United States of America to acknowledge that any unilateral declaration on its part regarding the status of Jerusalem will not in any way advance the cause of a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute between the peoples of Israel and Palestine,” the statement added.