Trump Gets Slapped Twice in One Week at the United Nations

President Trump added two new major mistakes last month to the long list of misguided foreign and domestic policy decisions throughout the year.

Donald Trump (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

On Dec. 18, 2017, the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that called for the reversal of President Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy to that city. All the other 14 members of the Security Council, including Britain and France, voted for the resolution, which correctly asserted that “Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations.” It further called for all states to refrain from moving their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem is a highly controversial and emotional issue for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Israel captured the eastern part of Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed it in violation of international law. Israel considers Jerusalem its “undivided and eternal capital.” Palestinians, on the other hand, consider East Jerusalem to be the capital of an eventual Palestinian state. Immediately after the UN vote, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced his refusal to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his upcoming visit to the Middle East. The trip was postponed to a later date. Thousands of protesters demonstrated in many Islamic countries against President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. The Palestinian leadership announced that they would no longer consider the U.S. as an honest broker of peace between the conflicting sides.

During the Security Council session, UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladinov warned that President Trump’s unilateral action lessens the chances of peace, “undermining moderates and empowering radicals.”

President Trump justified his decision by basing it on a 1995 law passed by Congress to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. However, all U.S. Presidents since then have signed a national security waiver postponing the move every six months. They did not wish to undermine the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations and inflame the passions of the Arab and Islamic world.

The fact that Trump had made a promise during his campaign to transfer the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem cannot excuse his recent decision. As I wrote a year ago, Trump had made an unwise promise and keeping it could become dangerous.

To make matters worse for the U.S., the UN General Assembly, where the U.S. does not have veto power, overwhelmingly adopted a resolution on Dec. 21, 2017, declaring President Trump’s decision recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “null and void.” It is highly embarrassing for a superpower like the U.S. to have 128 countries vote against it and only eight other countries support it (35 abstained and 21 were absent.)

President Trump has made the U.S. the laughing stock of the world, particularly since the U.S. and Israel were supported by tiny countries that most people have never heard of, such as Togo, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Palau.

In contrast, many of the major powers voted against the U.S. in the UN General Assembly: France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and dozens of others.

As if this embarrassment was not sufficient, President Trump and his UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, proudly declared that the U.S. would cut off aid to any country that voted against the U.S. This is a ridiculous statement, as the United States is not going to eliminate aid from many of these 128 states. Furthermore, when a world power like the U.S. provides foreign aid, it does so to pursue its own interests. By cutting off aid, the U.S. would jeopardize its own national interests. Giving foreign aid does not mean that the U.S. automatically buys a country’s sovereign right on how to cast its vote at the UN and try to intimidate it into submission.

Regarding the Jerusalem issue, there was much discussion in the Armenian press about the appropriateness of Armenia voting against the U.S. at the UN on Dec. 21. The fear was that Armenia would not receive foreign aid from the U.S. and would antagonize Israel.

In my opinion, both of these points are not valid. I am confident that Armenia’s many supporters in the U.S. Congress would restore the aid against the wishes of the White House, in the unlikely possibility that Pres. Trump would carry out his threat.

With regard to relations with Israel, Armenia does not have much of a risk, as Israel has not been friendly with Armenia. It has no Embassy in Yerevan, it has refused to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and has sold billions of dollars of lethal weapons to Azerbaijan to kill Armenians. Even Azerbaijan, despite its love-fest with Israel, voted against the U.S. decision. Needless to say, Turkey also voted against it.

Furthermore, abstaining from voting at the UN or being absent would have isolated Armenia from the rest of the world, from Armenian communities in Arab and Islamic countries, and contradict the wishes of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem which has condemned the U.S. decision.

Finally, Israeli leaders should not celebrate President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, as it is not in Israel’s interest to antagonize the rest of the world and isolate itself. Israel needs to win over other countries, especially Palestinians, to arrive at a peaceful resolution through negotiations, not bullying or violence


Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the United Armenian Fund, a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American organizations. He has been decorated by the president and prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. And up to this point exactly what peace efforts have been put forth that succeeded between the two parties?
    Trump did the correct thing.

  2. With all due respect, Jenna, I suspect that you do not have Armenian friends from Jerusalem. The Armenian community thrived, relatively speaking, under Jordanian rule; by contrast, we are under constant assault under Israeli occupation, from expropriation of private and Church property to interference in needed reconstruction by the occupying power to constant insults, including assault and battery, by fanatical colonists. Do you really support the fanatical allies of the Israeli right wing in their attempt to efface an Armenian presence in Jerusalem that dates back to the fifth century? That is the sort of work that the Turks do.

  3. Jenna, you are so right.
    Israel did not start the 1967 war, but they certainly finished it. War is deadly serious. There are no “do overs” or “mulligans.” If you begin a war and lose, you cannot sanely expect the winners to give you back what you lost. Think before you fight. Israel took Jerusalem and that’s all there is to it.

    The United Nations has accomplished many good and valuable things. Sadly world peace and ending genocide or ethnic cleansing or they many other terms for genocide have not been among these accomplishments. However, every member of the UN is a sovereign nation. Therefore, the UN has no right to tell any nation where it may or may not place its embassies. Whether or not you agree with Trump’s action is irrelevant to the legal right of the USA or any nation to locate its embassy where it wishes with the host nation’s agreement.

    • Israel most definitely started the war for the purposes of land grabs. The excuse: “it was preemptive”. The same concept they use today to steal and settle on Palestinian homes and land.

      You sound more like a proud Zionist than a proud American.

  4. What is this? If this is the “Armenian Weekly” view, count me unsubscribed. The prior comment was exactly on point. How did that 16 years of Bush and Obama Mideast Peace work out for you? Are you insane? The UN needs to be defunded and thrown out of this country. They are completely useless. Israel can name their capital and we can put our embassy there and do not need permission from the little girls at the UN….Insinuating that Trump got “slapped’ is probably the funniest, most stupid comment I have heard in a long time. Liten About Harut, get you democrat head out of your donkey ass.

    • You sound like a typical American: “the world is made up of Democrats and Republicans”. And as the American saying goes: “don’t let the door hit you on the way out”.

  5. Every president since Clinton has vowed to do what only Trump had the courage to do. He said it and he did it. I believe Israel has the right to name any city within its boundaries as it’s capitol.
    Thank God we have leaders like Trump and Ambassador Haley to tell the world that the US is back. Especially after the apology tour that the last president was on for 8 years. Talk about a laughingstock, I believe that is what we were under BHO.
    As for the UN, take a hike. How can one take an organization to be serious when countries such as Saudia Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela, China and Rwanda on it’s Human Rights Council?

    • Please produce the transcript or video of Barack Obama apologizing. I don’t want your formulation or summary of what he supposedly said. I want the actual evidence.

      Also, are you dense? I am assuming that you Armenian and therefore would like Turkey one day to apologize for the Armenian Genocide. Yet here you are saying that anybody who apologizes is weak, laughingstock, etc.

      Get a clue.

  6. A capital of a country is decided by the will of the citizens of the country of which it is the capital of, not by unelected foreign diplomats. Rather than indulging himself in anti-Israel / anti-Trump propaganda, Mr Sassounian should be congratulating the new US position and exploring why that position should be expanded into other spheres. The US policy change exposes to open light what is (and what has been for over 50 years) the reality of the situation on the ground, and it finally removes the false hopes that help maintain the delusional nature of the positions maintained by certain parties who think those 50 years don’t matter or have never happened. If the same thing were done in relation to the Republic of Artsakh – its recognition and the recognition of the autonomy of its population to decide matters on its future – this would finally bring home to Azerbaijan and others the now over 25-year-old reality of the situation on the ground there.

    • It is lazy, inaccurate, and dangerous to compare the situation in Artsakh with the situation in the West Bank. Please see my post below.

  7. Your opinion it’s a slap. More like noise from the weak and dishonest crowd.
    Thank you though for nothing the weapons sales to Azerbaijan I was not aware of that.

  8. Trump is a kind of president who could recognize Armenian genocide despite advisers, ‘allies’, etc. Department of State, Pentagon, all ‘allies’ were against Jerusalem recognition but Trump did anyway. A ‘regular’ Democratic or Republican president won’t recognize Armenian genocide as Bushes and Obama proved. Remember Obama reversing the course on Armenian genocide under advisers pressure.

    That is why for Armenia’s sake we should stay bipartisan, not going pro/against left or right. So this article is not helpful. We know that Trump is close to pro Israel lobby. Slapping Israel or Trump makes recognition of Armenian genocide impossible under Trump. If it does not happen under Trump it might not happen in our lifetime under after Trump ‘regular’ Democratic or Republican presidents…

    So United Armenian Fund and Mr. Sassounian should rethink the situation and find ways to approach Trump and ask for Armenian genocide recognition under Trump (while there are tensions between the US and Erdogan). Otherwise United Armenian Fund, etc. just waste lobbying donations.

    Regarding Israel, it is in the survival mode. They deal with Azerbaijan to have access to a base to watch over Iran. Armenia voted against the US probably because Russia voted so. Armenia is also in the survival mode depending on Russia for it. A lot of similarities between Israel and Armenia in the sense of history (genocide), diaspora, their neighbors, relations with Turkey…

    • Trump already had the chance to recognize the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2017 and he failed. Were you not aware of this?

      Also, comparing Armenia to Israel is lazy, inaccurate and dangerous. It is lazy because the two countries’ similarities are very superficial. It is inaccurate because as a matter of international law, the situations in Artsakh and the West Bank are completely different. In Artsakh the Armenians living there asserted their right to self-determination, which was triggered by Azeri massacres. By contrast, there were no Jews living in the West Bank who declared independence; Israel rather went beyond its internationally recognized borders and occupied that territory.

      Finally, the comparison is dangerous. Do you want Armenia to be an international pariah like Israel is?

  9. Harut, how come Armenia, with your approval, voted in the General Assembly along with the Muslim bloc that possesses more than 50 votes in the Assembly and therefore has great logrolling power at the Assembly? First, the same Muslim bloc would vote pretty much in the same numbers against Armenia in its disputes with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Secondly, because the Muslim bloc holds more than 1/4 of the seats in the Assembly, it can pretty much get its way on any issue on which the Muslim bloc agrees. That could mean the Armenian genocide, Artsakh, or whatever.

    Now, the international community through the San Remo decision of 1920 and the League of Nations vote for the Jewish National Home in 1922 placed Jerusalem in the Jewish state envisaged by San Remo and the League. So no violation of international law. If you are not aware, no subsequent international legal act could or did revoke the Jewish National Home juridically erected by San Remo and the League, as well as the Treaty of Sevres.

    I am aware that the Armenian church owns considerable real estate in downtown Jerusalem. Some of the property is leased from the Church by the Israeli govt and some govt offices are located on that real estate. Israel pays rent to the Church for use of the real estate.

    “The Armenian community thrived, relatively speaking, under Jordanian rule”. During Jordanian rule, Jews were not allowed to visit the Jewish holy places under Jordan’s rule, and the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated. Jews could not return to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City nor other previously Jewish-inhabited areas nor Jewish holy places that had come under Jordanian rule. Just how “relatively” well treated Armenians were in that 19 year period I wonder. And what does “relatively” mean here anyhow? Are you embellishing the situation in hindsight?

  10. Rational Armenians don’t support Israel.
    Why do you think that a nation that suffered a genocide of their own doesn’t recognize a well documented genocide of another people? So this peanut gallery that is all of a sudden talking about another countries right to choose a capital is full of crap. You can’t be in support of a country that is against what’s good for us. Support them when they support us. Don’t you think to yourself why Israel has historically been so bad towards Armenia?
    Also, Trump will go down in history as the worst human being to ever be appointed to such a high position. Needless to say, he’ll also be remembered as the worst president this country has ever endured. So you all supporting him are as bad as he is or just really, really confused, ignorant, foolish or with much greater certainty I say selfish people.

    • Agree with your first part, not the second. I’m not particularly fond of Trump, but Trump will not go down as the worst president in history yet, because he has been president for only one year. Currently, the honor of the worst president goes to Obama. Also, for me as an Armenian, perhaps Obama will always be the worst: first he lied to us and second missed our golden opportunity at the 100th anniversary to do the right thing. Now that is lost forever, thanks to Obama.

  11. “How come Armenia voted in the General Assembly along with the Muslim bloc?”

    This is the kind of silly statement that only a typical Jewish anti-Armenian commentator would make; furthermore, notice how this particular commentator made sure to leave out the other 127 countries (such as France, Britain, Germany, Greece, Spain) who all voted against Trump’s extremely pro-Jewish declaration. All 128 of these countries, including Armenia, were fully correct in disapproving this absurd declaration by the White House…which rejects the fact that Jerusalem happens to also be a historic Christian city as well as a historic Muslim city. Therefore, this particular city should neither be part of Israel, nor should it be part of the Palestinian state. Instead, Jerusalem should rightfully be a city state.

    In regard to the historic Armenian community which thrived in Palestine prior to the creation of Israel in 1948, it has become almost extinct under the rule of the Israelis:

    “With such a rich cultural legacy, one might guess that the Armenians of Jerusalem are strong and thriving. They are not. If the Old City were divided up today, the Armenians might barely command one street. They certainly would not lay claim to an entire Quarter, as they have for centuries. The survival of the community is today in peril. The population is dwindling. Armenian property rights are under attack.”

    “The Israelis want to take over the Armenian Quarter,” “says Hintlian (a prominent member of Jerusalem’s Armenian community.” “People are psychologically crushed,” “says Hintlian.” “Israeli policies-Hintlian calls it harassment-work to encourage Armenians to leave.”

    “There had been 35,000 Armenians-some say more-in the region (present-day Israel) prior to 1948. There are about 2,000 in the region today, of whom 500 live in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City.”

  12. If the world is not aware, it is time to be informed. The Arab and Muslim people and countries willingly opened their lands to what remained of the Armenian population escaping from the Turkish Genocide, which slaughtered 2/3 of the Armenian nation in their native lands. Were you expecting Armenia to vote for the US side, and jeopardize the lives and well being of the Armenian Diaspora in these hospitable Arab lands?

    • Armenia did nothing to protect the lives and well being of Armenians in Iraq or Syria, or for that matter of the Arabs there, meekly going along with US policies, policies that led to the complete destruction of the Armenian community in Iraq and the devastation of the Armenian community in Syria. Nor do I recall a single notable diaspora Armenian voice (with the exception of Serge Tankian) having objected to those US actions.

  13. After Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan, Israel is probably the 4th most anti-Armenian state in the world. From lobbying against Armenians in Washington to selling lethal weapons to Azerbaijan, they have harmed our interests more than any other Islamic country could have ever done. Personally, I don’t really care about Jerusalem. I am not sure what makes it sacred. It is just an old dry city with a bunch of historic buildings and legends which Israelis use to attract delusional Christian tourists.
    What matters to me is my homeland Armenia. If someone constantly works against our interests then there is absolutely no reason to take their interests into account when voting at UN.
    Maybe, if Israel cared about our vote they would have opened an embassy in Yerevan to communicate with Armenian officials. Maybe, Israelis should ask their leaders why is it that their freind Azerbiajan voted against them.
    I am not advocating an all out war against Israel’s intersts by Armenia. That would have been idiotic considering the fact that US foreign policy, at least in Middle East, is dictated from Israel. But in this case voting against the resolution would have earned us nothing. Israelis only follow the money and right now it is Azerbaijan which is ready to pay for their weapons. Voting for the resolution might at least have a positive impact on our relations with some Islamic countries(Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran…)

  14. So much crazy talk in these comments, making excuses for what Trump and therefore America, “has the right to place its embassy anywhere it wants because it is a sovereign nation”.

    If you cared about a “sovereign nation”, you would also be concerned about a super power taking and following orders from a little trouble maker in the Middle East, for 100% benefit to itself, and no benefit for anything or anyone else in the world including for the USA. But conveniently that is not in your thoughts.

    In all likelihood, this move by Trump with Jerusalem is actually the OPPOSITE of the policies of “make America great again” and a “free and sovereign nation”. The likes of the Zionist Sheldon Adelson has a lot to do with all this fiasco. Even the NY Times admits to this:

    Tell me “proud Americans” above, is this your “sovereignty”?

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