Members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) have criticised Washington’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and warned that it would raise tensions in the area even as Washington stood alone steadfastly defending its decision.
The political conflict over Jerusalem could turn into an unrelenting religious conflict, France’s Permanent Representative Francois Delattre told an emergency meeting on Friday.
Citing several Council resolutions, he said that any unilateral changes to the city’s status would be null and void.
The international community would only recognise modifications of the 1967 borders accepted by both sides, he said in a statement that reflected the broad convergence of views of both US allies and others in the Council.
One of the Council resolutions adopted in 1980 specifically asks member countries not to put their diplomatic missions in the “Holy City” considered sacred by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
In contrast to the UN, where even Washington’s allies crticised President Donald Trump’s decision announced on Wednesday, there was a broad consensus in the US reflected in a law passed by Congress in 1995 move the embassy to Jerusalem.
About 1,000 Palestine supporters protested in New York’s Times Square on Friday evening.
Separated by police barriers across the avenue, a smaller group held a counter demonstration supporting Trump.
US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley reiterated the Trump administration’s commitment to a peace process and to a two-state solution.
“The US has not taken a position on boundaries or borders… The specific dimensions of sovereignty over Jerusalem are still to be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians in negotiations.”
Haley said that it was “simple common sense” to move Washington’s embassy to Jerusalem because “in virtually every country in the world, US embassies are located in the host country’s capital city”.
British Permanent Representative Matthew Ryrcroft said that Jerusalem should be the joint capital of Israeli and Palestinian states and the US decision was unhelpful.
He said that the expansion of Israeli settlements, particularly in East Jerusalem, terrorism and incitement to violence were barriers to a lasting solution to the conflict there.
China’s Deputy Permanent Representative Wu Haitao said that any unilateral actions on Jerusalem’s status could trigger new confrontations.
Earlier while briefing the Council, UN’s Middle East Peace Process Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov noted that Trump had said final status issues, including the boundaries, remains to be determined.
“It is up to all of us in the international community, as much as it is up to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, to urgently advance a just and lasting resolution to this conflict,” he said, warning of the risks of “being engulfed in the vortex of religious radicalism”.