TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – A United Nations rights expert hailed a unanimous vote by the UN General Assembly against the US administration’s decision to recognize al-Quds as the capital of Israel, saying the resolution reaffirmed the international community’s long-standing principles towards al-Quds.

In an interview with the Press Shia Agency News Agency, Michael Lynk, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, lauded the UN General Assembly’s rejection of US President Donald Trump's plan to recognize the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel.

“The resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly re-affirmed long-standing principles held by the international community towards Jerusalem,” Lynk said on Thursday night, after a resounding majority of UN member states defied unprecedented threats by the US to declare Trump's recognition of al-Quds as Israel's capital "null and void".

The non-binding resolution was approved with 128 votes in favor and nine against, while 35 countries abstained. It passed despite intimidation by Trump, who had threatened on Wednesday to eliminate financial aid to member states who would vote against his decision.

Highlighting three main features of the resolution, Mr. Lynk said it firstly “affirms that East Jerusalem is occupied territory under international law, that the annexation by Israel of east Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank (which occurred in 1967 and 1980) is illegal and null and void, and that all demographic changes – through the creation of Israeli settlements  and the presence of 210,000 Israeli settlers – are within any legal effect and must be rescinded.”

Pointing to the second feature of the Thursday’s resolution, the UN rapporteur said, “The question of Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in line with all relevant UN resolutions. This leaves open the distinct possibility that – upon a comprehensive resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict – the international community would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and Palestine, but that no steps should be taken to recognize the claim of one side or the other until all final status issues are settled.”

Lynk also pointed to a resolution the UN Security Council had passed 37 years ago, noting, “In line with UNSC resolution 478 (1980), all states should refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem until a final resolution of the conflict. This has been the unified policy of the international community for several decades, and explains why there are presently no embassies in Jerusalem.”

“While President Trump, in his announcement on 6 December, stated that the United States was not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries around Jerusalem, his statement did not expressly recognize Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. As well, President Trump made a specific reference in his announcement to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which expressly refers to a ‘united’ and ‘undivided’ Jerusalem, which no country in the world recognizes,” he added.

“Consequently, this declaration has been interpreted – rightly or wrongly — by many countries and many observers as a statement of support for Israel’s claim over all of Jerusalem. It diminishes hope by the Palestinians that a just and final settlement is anywhere on the horizon. And it further degrades the important place that international law and the consensus of the international community should have in guiding the parties towards a durable agreement on peace,” Lynk added.

“Israel’s present long-term strategy appears to be aimed at managing the conflict, rather than pursuing a settlement along the lines of international law and the international consensus (a two-state solution, along the 1967 borders). The Jerusalem declaration by the United States may well be pocketed by Israel as another low-cost diplomatic gift which moves the goalposts of final-status issues further in its favor. This cannot be helpful to the pursuit of peace,” the UN rapporteur warned.

He also highlighted the significant impacts of the international community’s reaction, adding, “If it contents itself with the passage of this resolution, without seriously assessing how to turn the current situation around in the direction of Palestinian self-determination, will this be read by the Israeli leadership that it can contemplate the de jure annexation of parts, or all, of the West Bank in the foreseeable future without facing meaningful consequences?”

Mr. Lynk is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Western University, in London, Ontario. He joined the Faculty in 1999, and has taught courses in labor, human rights, disability, constitutional and administrative law. He served as Associate Dean of the Faculty between 2008-11.