UN General Assembly majority vote on Jerusalem

Makwaia Wa Kuhenga

“IT is a fact today that nobody questions the presence of the state of Israel. It is a fact accompli. But for how long will Palestinian people remain homeless - without a state of their own?”- Tanzanian Founder President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

TOP global news at the end of this year, 2017 has been the move to declare Jerusalem the new capital of Israel away from Tel Aviv. Those watching global TV networks must have watched clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian people in Jerusalem resulting in some loss of life and spilling of blood.

Preceding these developments, there were news agencies reports that the United Nations General Assembly had voted to declare the United States of America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “null and void”.

Here is one report: “A United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the US to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital passed overwhelmingly despite threats from the Trump administration to cut funding to US aid recipients who voted in favor.

“The US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had enticed earlier that the United States would be blacklisting names of those who voted for the resolution…” But in spite of this threat, one hundred and twenty eight countries voted for the resolution, nine voted against and thirty-five countries abstained.

A member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, commenting about the unanimous vote said the PLO was “extremely encouraged and empowered by the vote.

She added: “Despite American efforts to safeguard Israeli violations and war crimes, the majority maintained their principled position while a minimal number succumbed by abstaining or voting against the resolution.”

Among countries which were in favor of the UN General Assembly vote which differed with Washington’s stance were African countries such as Botswana which said in a formal statement that it will not be “intimidated” by threats to miss US aid. “Botswana is run by a principled political line which affirms that Jerusalem is a fundamental final status issue,” said a statement of the Botswana Ministry of International Affairs in Gaborone.

Going on line to find out if my country, Tanzania was in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution against the US-sponsored move to make Jerusalem the Israeli capital, I found out, to my great pleasure and jubilation that it was right there! Arranged alphabetically, the majority countries in favor of the UN General Assembly vote numbering 128, I looked for my country listed under ‘T’. There it was – at the end of Syria, came Tajikistan and then Tanzania.

Cheers! Why was I cheering? The reason is simple: my country, Tanzania throughout her history has pursued a principled political line in her foreign policy and the question of liberation of peoples was paramount.

As quoted at the beginning of this perspective, the founder President of this country, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere had questioned why Palestinians should be both stateless and homeless when Israel was de facto. And this is why Mwalimu had given green light to the opening of the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in place in Tanzania for many years today.

Now if there exists two people in the same area, which was historically Palestine before the coercive creation of the state of Israel in 1948, what should be the way forward to achieve an amicable solution? Clearly, this is a fundamentally important question.

This brings us to the all-important agenda of having a two state solution in the area - an Israel and Palestine state. Fortunately, this has been the global agenda not resented by anyone, least of all the United Nations.

Actually, a previous American administration, notably that of President Obama had been working towards a two-state resolution in the Middle East – that is the Palestine state living side by side with that of Israel.

Those who had followed Obama’s efforts towards this end were very commendable of his efforts. Mr. Obama never took sides as an arbitrator such as supporting one town as an appropriate capital of the state of Israel!

Now coming to the point of the current political hot air which, as pointed out earlier at the launch of this perspective, violence has escalated in the area occupied by Israel – specifically Jerusalem, and more blood spilling has deepened following President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital away from Tel Aviv.

This Trump move, if not reversed, is bound to complicate further any talk of a two-state resolution in the area as already some major players in the Middle East are already disqualifying any future mediatory role for the United States.

Already some countries, such as South Africa have decided to downgrade their embassies in Tel Aviv to the status of “Liaison Office”. Another factor, which men in leadership positions of major powers like the United States should consider is the exceptional uniqueness of Jerusalem as a spiritually renowned holy place for the world’s major religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

The last thing that should befall this town is open antagonism at a place where men and women from all points of the globe belonging to these faiths are bound to interact.

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