KATHMANDU, Dec 22: Many countries including Nepal are in a fix as US President Donald Trump is exercising “coercive diplomacy” against countries not supporting his controversial move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
As an emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convenes for a vote on Thursday, the Trump administration has threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars in US aid from countries which vote in favor of a UN resolution rejecting the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The UNGA emergency meeting was called after the US vetoed a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt rejecting Trump's move during a UN Security Council meeting on Monday. The Security Council resolution that demanded that all countries comply with pre-existing UN Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem dating back to 1967, was backed by 14 of the 15 Security Council members, including many traditional allies of the US.
As a supporter of the existing UN resolutions as the only viable option for maintaining peace in the Middle East, there is little chance that Nepal would support Trump's move. But as the Trump Administration has warned in public to withhold its aid from non-supporters, there are fears among officials that Nepal could lose a huge amount of aid it is receiving from the US government. Currently, the US stands as one of the largest donors to Nepal.
Trump has challenged countries to vote against the US in the emergency UNGA meeting on Thursday. “Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. 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,” international media reports have quoted him as saying at his cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Earlier, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US would 'take names of those who vote to reject Jerusalem recognition'. “At the UN we're always asked to do more and give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American people, about where to locate OUR embassy, we don't expect those we have helped to target us. On Thursday there'll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names,” she tweeted.
Analysts believe that such a warning is directed largely against UN member states in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are recipients of US aid money. Many big countries including India have not been able to make their position clear on the issue so far.
Senior government officials in Kathmandu admitted that they are in a fix due to the US threat aimed at saving its controversial decision. “We are always in favor of the co-existence of Israel and Palestine in peace and harmony. We do not want to deviate from our long-held position towards the Israel-Palestine row no matter what consequences this may entail,” said a senior government official, asking not to be named.
Highly-placed government sources said Nepal will follow the decision of other countries that are part of the Non-Alignment Movement including India and China. Nepali diplomats in New York will also take a cue from the decisions of other major powers over the resolution in deciding whether to abstain or vote.