Antigua & Barbuda today abstained from a vote on a United Nations resolution to reject Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
A handful of other Caricom states also abstained. Antigua and Barbuda’s diplomats did not give a reason for the nation’s vote.
Overall, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries were for the resolution backed by more than 100 members of the United Nations.
The non-binding resolution called on President Donald Trump to reverse his decision to recognise Jerusalem even as Washington threatened it would be “taking names” of countries that support the resolution.
No CARICOM country was in support of the US move with Washington gaining the nod from Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.
However, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago were among the 35 countries that abstained during the vote.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Dennis Moses later said that the Keith Rowley administration had taken its domestic position into consideration when it voted.
The CARICOM states that were among the 128 countries that voted in favour of the resolution were Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.
St. Lucia and Haiti did not register a vote and it is not known whether they were among the 21 countries that stayed away from the UN General Assembly meeting on Thursday.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines government was the only CARICOM country that had publicly called on Washington “to refrain from recognising Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel” after Trump had indicated a willingness to do so.
“Any such recognition would imperil the internationally-agreed Two-State Solution, destabilise the Middle East region, and invalidate the important role of the United States as an honest broker and driver of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The capital of Israel is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is a corpus separatum, or a “separated body” with a special legal and political status.
The Gonsalves administration noted that in 1980, in response to an Israeli attempt to declare Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, the United Nations Security Council condemned that declaration as a violation of international law.
The Security Council went on to state that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem . . . are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith,” and that such actions “constitute… a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted.
The statement said that while St Vincent and the Grenadines applauds recent efforts by the United States “to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, we urge that such efforts focus on cessation of illegal Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territory, the removal of impediments to movement and commerce within the State of Palestine, and the fostering of an environment of trust and goodwill that can stimulate meaningful negotiations between the parties.
“The decades of painstaking work, to say nothing of the lives lost in the conflict, demand mature, responsible and measured action.
“Accordingly, St Vincent and the Grenadines strongly urges the United States of America to acknowledge that any unilateral declaration on its part regarding the status of Jerusalem will not in any way advance the cause of a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute between the peoples of Israel and Palestine,” the statement said.
Prior to the vote on Thursday, President Trump had also indicated that If the UN voted against his country, the US would “save a lot — a veiled threat of the US pulling its funding for the United Nations.