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Trump's suicidal defiance of int'l law.

Byline: Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

HORRENDOUS Trump's move on Jerusalem, the worst initiative of his legacy faces strong legal and moral resistance by both UN's organic organs, the UNSC and the UNGAfirstly vindicated by the United Nations Security Council 14 members' no vote (albeit vetoed by the US) and subsequently endorsed by an overwhelming majority vote(128-9) on resolution passed by the General Assembly- on December 21(despite threats from the Trump administration to cut funding to U.S. aid recipients who voted in favor)- declaring Trump's Jerusalem decision null and void. Trump's Nazism-cum-unilateralism not only poses challenge to the UN's soft power writ or jus gentium, but it also poses challenge to the survival of US moral legacy.

The UNGA's resolution ES?10/L.22 'calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem' another shot at the Trump administration, which announced plans to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Just after the vote, Palestinian leaders called the vote a victory for Palestine and thanked the UN member states that rejected Trump's unilateral move 'despite all the pressure exerted on them'. 'This decision reaffirms once again that the just Palestinian cause enjoys the support of international community, and no decisions made by any side could change the reality, that Jerusalem is an occupied territory under international law,' Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement.

'A history of moralism,' the late intellectual historian Henry May once observed, 'would come close to being a history of American thought.' It was a forgivable exaggeration, for his point still stands when it comes to the exceptionalist American self-understanding that May's comment as much enacted as described. From the beginning, Americans have often been prone not simply to assume an uncomplicated belief in what May called 'the first and central article of faith in the national credo . . . : the reality, certainty, and eternity of moral values.' They have also overwhelmingly tended to infer that, as 'perhaps the most often stated corollary of all, the United States, as a special leader in moral progress, had a special responsibility for moral judgment . . . .'

Put conceptually, Joseph Nye's doctrine of 'soft power' wielded by an organization such as the United Nations ardently advocates for pacification of territorial disputes of Palestine and Kashmir via UN's proactive diplomacy. There appears no more reliable instrument than the legitimacy of international rule of law since the tremendous horizontal and vertical expansion of international law dispels the aura of doubts as to its legality and authority, serving the very purpose behind the institution of international law.

Not only did the US play a crucial role in writing the new rules for international community, but it almost immediately began breaking them. While learning lessons from the Bush, Obama and the Trump's administrations, many Americans seem to forget they are lost in policy drivel. Evaluations of their justice, their legality and necessity, even their cost or effectiveness are almost entirely absent from American politics. To the extent they (the neo-liberals or neoconservatives) consider them at all, Americans assume might makes right. Undermining the UN would make it somewhat easier for both the US and Israel to pursue unilateral foreign policies and act alone when they feel the need to. Whenever the UN acts against the US interests, the White House has shown its stern disdain against it, as shown by US' $285 million cut in UNGA's proposed annual budget for peacekeeping missions accompanied by Nikki Haley's intimidating attitude to UN member states on Dec 21.

As for the truth of Jerusalem, the areas of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem that came under Israeli control in 1967 and were included in Israel's municipal areas for Jerusalem, are universally acknowledged to be occupied territory, where international humanitarian law is applicable. Israel's illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem has been repeatedly condemned by the international community through various UN Security Council resolutions.

Not only does Trump's decision of recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital contribute to undermining the international rule of law, it also reflects a blunt disregard for mass human rights violations that Palestinians are facing as a result of Israel's annexation policies. The bluntness of the Trump faltering approach that glaringly exposes to the world an ugly reality that America is the only Sovereign power should have been obvious reason why world at large looks at Israeli behavior with a critical eye, or feels deeply concerned about Trump's follies. Trump's Jerusalem move indicates that a peace process once sufficiently existed to be susceptible is tantamount to being destroyed. Yet, hailed by many peace diplomats as a model of preventive diplomacy and a viable blueprint for the future, the only intra vires, pragmatic and lasting peace solution of Palestinian-Israeli dispute rests with two state solution envisaging East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine ;whereas West Jerusalem as capital of Israel.

Harrowingly, Trump's pro-Israeli mantra/uti possidetis bleaks the future of global order in order to meet the commitment to multilateralism, human rights, and the rule of law. Can this order survive if America turns its back on these values? Will the world continue to seek multilateral solutions and promote global justice? What is the future of contested areas of international law concerning human rights and accountability for atrocities if the hard power continues to dominate the moral and legal writ of the United Nations-as shown by Trump's move on Jerusalem challenging the judicious truth that Al-Quds belongs to Palestine?
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Publication:Pakistan Observer (Islamabad, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Dec 28, 2017
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