BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Members of the United Nations have overwhelmingly backed a resolution calling on states to refrain from establishing missions in the contested city of Jerusalem, defying US threats to cut financial aid to countries that “disrespected” America by rejecting its unilateral move.

At an emergency session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Brunei was one of 128 countries that voted in favour of the resolution, which states that Jerusalem — claimed as capital by both Israel and Palestine — is a “final status issue to be resolved through negotiations”.

Without calling out the United States by name, the resolution expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem” and demanded that all states comply with previous UN Security Council resolutions and “not recognise any actions or measures contrary”.

President Trump’s December 6 announcement endorsing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke with decades of US foreign policy and was near universally condemned by the international community.

The move triggered protests across the Muslim world and deadly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. 

The UN General Assembly said Trump’s unilateral declaration undermined peace efforts that could lead to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

While largely symbolic, Thursday’s resolution does carry political weight. It was passed by 128 states, with 35 abstentions and nine votes against. Among ASEAN nations, the majority backed the motion, although the Philippines abstained and Myanmar was not present for the vote.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said the vote would have no bearing on the government’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN, and how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN … This vote will be remembered,” she said, echoing President Trump’s threats to cut financial aid to countries who voted against the US.

While a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the vote “a victory for Palestine”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the result, calling the UN a “house of lies”.

Brunei established diplomatic relations with Palestine in 1988 and supports an internationally-recognised Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Speaking at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Turkey earlier this month, Brunei’s monarch joined Muslim leaders in calling for a “just and lasting solution” to the plight of the Palestinian people.

Reiterating this position at the UN General Assembly back in September, Brunei’s Second Minister of Foreign Affairs said the body had a moral and legal obligation to translate the growing international recognition of Palestine into true self-determination for the Palestinian people.