Israel-Palestine Current Affairs - 2019
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United States has decided to merge its Consulate General with its new embassy in Israel into single diplomatic mission in Jerusalem. This decision was taken as part of US’s global efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness of its operations. It also comes after US under President Donald Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and moved its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. The consulate general in Jerusalem was top mission of US for Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem for their capital. Post this merger, US will establish new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside embassy in Jerusalem to continue reporting, outreach and programming in West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem.
The status of Jerusalem is one of thorniest disputes between Israel and Palestinians. Palestinians, with broad international backing, seek East Jerusalem as capital of state they want to establish in occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. But, Israel regards all of city, including eastern sector it captured in 1967 Middle East war and annexed, as its eternal and indivisible capital, but this is recognized internationally.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has overwhelmingly adopted resolution declaring United States of America (USA) recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as ‘null and void’.
The resolution was moved by Turkey and Yemen and was adopted with 128 countries voting in favour including major political powers such as India, Japan Britain, France, Germany and 9 against it, while 35 abstained from voting.
The UNGA resolution stressed that Jerusalem was final status issue to be resolved through negotiations. It demanded that all States comply with UNSC resolutions regarding Jerusalem, and not recognise any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions. Countries voting in favour of resolution also disregarded US President Trump’s threat to cut off financial aid to countries that backed the draft resolution.
The 9 countries that opposed resolution at UNGA included US along with Israel, Guatemala, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Honduras and Togo. The nations that abstained from voting include US allies such as Canada, Australia, Mexico, Bhutan, Poland, Czech Republic and Romania.
The draft resolution rejecting US move was sent to UNGA after it was vetoed by United States at UN Security Council (UNSC), although all other 14 council members voted in favour. The resolution was drafted following US President Donald Trump’s announcement of shifting US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and officially recognising ancient disputed city as capital of Israel.