As United Nations members prepare for an emergency session to discuss the status of Jerusalem, President Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to cut aid to countries that vote against his decision to disregard international law and recognize the ancient city as the capitol of Israel.
"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us," said Trump. "Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care."
His remarks were met with condemnation by Amnesty International.
"President Trump is doubling down on his reckless policies by coercing other countries into accepting his decision to recognize the unlawful annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel," said Raed Jarrar, the group's advocacy director for the Middle East. "The Trump administration’s bullying tactics will only serve to further isolate the United States on the global stage. Rather than threatening those who depend on U.S. aid, the Trump Administration should abide by its legal obligations not to recognize an illegal situation and reverse its course on Jerusalem."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) denounced the president's statement on social media.
Justice is a core value of #Christianity, #Judaism and #Islam. That's why #Americans of all political persuasions and faith traditions should support international law and justice for Palestinian families and children. #Jerusalem— Nihad Awad (@NihadAwad) December 20, 2017
Asian and African countries that rely on aid are among those voting on Thursday, as well as the U.K., which is preparing to negotiate a trade deal with the U.S. following its decision to withdraw from the European Union.
His statement followed a threat issued by U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday, when she told the 192 other representatives that she will be "taking names" of those who reject the United States' recent announcement.
Judging from the international response to Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—further normalizing the occupation—Haley's list of names will likely consist of nearly all 193 members of the U.N. General Assembly, minus the U.S.
A 14-1 vote on Monday left Haley isolated while every other member of the U.N. Security Council voted that President Donald Trump should withdraw his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capitol.
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Haley issued her threat in a letter to the U.N. member states, telling them that Trump and the U.S. "take this vote personally," and followed it with a tweet.
At the UN we're always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don't expect those we've helped to target us. On Thurs there'll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names. pic.twitter.com/ZsusB8Hqt4— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) December 19, 2017
Despite Haley's claim that Trump was serving "the will of the American people," a Brookings Institution poll taken in November found that 63 percent of Americans, including 44 percent of Republicans, would oppose moving the U.S. embassy.
Critics also pushed back against Haley's framing of the issue as one in which other world powers are overstepping their bounds by opposing Trump's decision, especially as Palestinians and the rest of the international community view the president's new recognition of Jerusalem, as well as his other frequent declarations regarding foreign governments, as inappropriate and dangerous.
Trump regime exposes contempt for democracy through its threats against those who dare resist its thuggish demands at the UN—all while Trump insults Iran crudely as “dictatorship”. US version of democracy stops at rhetoric of "either with us or against us".— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 20, 2017
On social media, critics pushed back against Trump and Haley's rhetoric and stressed that their threats may carry little weight with their opponents in light of the United States' isolated stance.
Hey Nikki Haley: Let me help you out. Instead of "taking names"of the countries against the Jerusalem move, just write down The USA and Israel, then subtract them from EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN EXISTENCE. Then you will have your list. #MathTutor— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) December 20, 2017
Nikki Haley will be “taking names” of countries that vote against US at UN on Thursday. She doesn’t get it, does she? It’s the US that is stepping out of line with the rest of the world. #recognisepalestine— Labour 2 Palestine (@Lab2Palestine) December 20, 2017