Sun | Jun 24, 2018

Dominica PM explains UN vote on Jerusalem

Published:Friday | December 22, 2017 | 5:55 PM
Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the UN, speaks at the General Assembly, Thursday at United Nations headquarters. – AP Photo

ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC):
The Dominica government Friday defended its decision to vote in favour of a non-bind United Nations (UN) resolution that called upon all states to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Dominica was among the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) included in the 128 countries that voted in favour of the resolution on whether or not to support the decision by the United States to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The other CARICOM countries were Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.

No CARICOM country was in support of the US move with Washington gaining the nod from Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.

However, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were among the 35 countries that abstained during the vote.

St Lucia and Haiti did not register a vote and it is not known whether they were among the 21 countries that stayed away from the UN General Assembly meeting on Thursday.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio during a live news conference, said that his administration’s position had been conditioned by international law.

“We are simply going according to previous United Nations decisions on the matter and respecting the international laws …” he told radio listeners.

Meanwhile, Barbados Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine McClean said the Freundel Stuart administration had remained “consistent on the matter.

“We have always supported a two state solution, a negotiated solutions and from our perspective the [Trump] decision does not facilitate that,” she said, adding that even with the threat of sanctions now hanging over its head, she did not believe that Barbados had anything to fear.

“If you look back to where we began as an independent sovereign state in 1966 our first Prime Minister [Errol Walton Barrow] made a statement that is often referred to in which he said Barbados is a ‘friend of all and a satellite of none” McClean told the online publication, Barbados TODAY.

She said while “the United States has been a friend of Barbados [and] we have supported them on several issues” Bridgetown was adamant that the vote was not about the US.

“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.

Ahead of Thursday’s vote, the St Vincent & the Grenadines government was the only CARICOM country to publicly call on Washington “to refrain from recognising Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel” after Trump had indicated a willingness to do so.

“Any such recognition would imperil the internationally-agreed two-state solution, destabilise the Middle East region, and invalidate the important role of the United States as an honest broker and driver of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” the Ralph Gonsalves-led administration had said in a statement.

President Donald Trump had prior to Thursday’s vote, threatened that if the UN voted against his country, the US would “save a lot

“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.

“We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars. We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer,” Trump said.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had also warned that she would be “taking names” of those countries that voted in support of the resolution.

“The United States will remember this day, on which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.

“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that,” she added.