Abbas Says He Will Press UN to ‘Annul’ Trump’s Jerusalem Decision

By Patrick Goodenough | December 15, 2017 | 4:30 AM EST

P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas takes part in an Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Istanbul on Wednesday, December 13, 2017. Also visible are Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Jordan’s King Abdullah and OIC secretary-general Yusuf Al-Othaimeen. (Photo: Turkish Foreign Ministry)

( – Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has signaled plans to have the U.N. Security Council “annul” President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but according to an international law expert, the proposal is “fantasy.”

Abbas said in Istanbul Wednesday that under the U.N.’s founding charter it is possible for a resolution to be brought to a vote before the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), which the U.S. would not be able to veto.

The U.S. would instead be compelled to abstain, on the grounds that it is a party to the dispute in question.

In a joint release with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretary-general Yusuf Al-Othaimeen, Abbas said that “according to the United Nations Charter Palestinians can request a vote on an issue that the U.S. cannot vote on.”

“We will go to the Security Council to annul the announcement of U.S. President Donald Trump recognition in Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the official P.A. news agency Wafa quoted him as saying.

Abbas appeared to base his reasoning on article 27 of the U.N. Charter, which says:

“Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting” (emphasis added).

(Chapter VI deals with the peaceful settlement of disputes, and article 62, paragraph 3 refers to cases where the Security Council encourages the peaceful settlement of local disputes through regional initiatives.)

According to international law scholar Eugene Kontorovich, Abbas is simply wrong.

“There is no way this could be put to a vote of the UNSC that the U.S. would not veto,” he said in response to queries. “Nor can the U.N. veto recognition decisions of countries, which are purely sovereign political acts.”

“This is all fantasy. It shows that Abbas always believes there is no reason to deal with his current interlocutors because he can get a better deal from the U.N.”

Kontorovich, who is professor of law at Northwestern University’s School of Law, and head of international law at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem, said Abbas’ proposal did underline the importance of who occupies the Oval Office.

“While Abbas’ plan is unrealistic now, all it takes is a different president in the White House to make it real, by not vetoing such a resolution and then saying while he is unhappy about it, the UN has ‘tied his hands’ and he must annul the recognition.”

Kontorovich said it was quite possible a future Democratic president would do that, noting that President Obama in fact did in his last weeks in office.

(He was referring to UNSC resolution 2234, which was adopted on December 23 last year after the Obama administration chose not to exercise its veto. The measure declares eastern Jerusalem, including Judaism’s most sacred site, to be “occupied Palestinian territory” and calls Israeli presence there “a flagrant violation under international law.”)

“Using the UNSC to tie Americans hands is a technique favored by the internationalist left – the prior administration did it with the Iran deal too – and we have not seen the last of it,” Kontorovich said.

Abbas made the comments in Istanbul, where he attended an OIC “extraordinary summit,” convened by Erdogan in reaction to Trump’s December 6 announcement.

Representatives of the 57 mostly Muslim-majority members slammed Trump’s decision and called on all countries to respond by recognizing east Jerusalem as the “capital of the State of Palestine.”

A sovereign Palestinian state does not currently exist, but Abbas also announced plans to seek from the UNSC and General Assembly support for “full membership of the state of Palestine.”

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow