In Rare Move, Trump Threatens to Cut Aid to UN Members Who Vote Against Jerusalem Recognition

U.S. president says he 'likes' envoy Nikki Haley's warning to UN member states and that he is, indeed, 'watching their votes'

U.S. President Donald Trump at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on May 22, 2017.
Ronen Zvulun/AP

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor Thursday of the United Nations resolution rejecting Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Speaking to reporters at the White House Wednesday, Trump also expressed support for a letter sent by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, in which she warned member states against supporting the resolution. 

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"The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those who voted against us," Haley wrote in the letter.

Trump said he "likes" Haley's message and that he is, indeed, "watching their votes.

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"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us," Trump said. "Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care."

Nikki Haley sent a letter to representatives of UN member-states, warning them against supporting a resolution rejecting President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The resolution, which expected to pass by sweeping majority, is slated for vote on Thursday.

"The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those who voted against us," she wrote in a letter obtained by Haaretz. "Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to contact my team with any questions or concerns."

The UN General Assembly is set to meet on Thursday at 5 P.M. Israel time (10 A.M. EST) for an emergency discussion on the unilateral American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Turkey and Yemen requested the meeting after an Egyptian draft resolution against the recognition was presented to the Security Council and was vetoed by the United States, although the 14 other members of the council voted for it.

Turkey said on Wednesday the U.S. has isolated itself by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and accused it of threatening countries that might vote against it on the matter at an emergency U.N. General Assembly session.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose country has led Muslim opposition to Washington’s stance on Jerusalem, was speaking before leaving Istanbul with the Palestinian foreign minister to attend Thursday’s gathering in New York.

In an attempt to avoid embarrassment, Israel has instructed its diplomatic missions to seek meetings with high-level officials to persuade them to direct their representatives at the UN to oppose, not to support, or at the very least not to deliver a speech at the General Assembly.

Among the reasons ambassadors were told to cite are that Jerusalem was the de facto capital of Israel long before the United States recognized it as such; a resolution of this kind at the United Nations will damage American efforts toward a peace agreement in the region; the resolution will spur terror and violence in the area; and unilateral steps in the United Nations do more harm than good. The envoys will also pledge to maintain freedom of religion and the status quo in the city.

Other countries that are expected to support the vote but also receive substancial U.S. monetary aid assistance include Egypt and Jordan, both of which received over one billion dollars in 2016.