By Roy Mabasa
The Philippines joined 34 other countries that abstained from condemning United States President Donald J. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during the general assembly voting held at the United Nations in New York City on Friday (Thursday in the US).
An overwhelming 128 countries voted in favor of the resolution while nine countries voted “no.”
Among the major countries and known US allies that abstained alongside with the Philippines were Mexico, Australia and Canada.
This move caught veteran diplomatic observers by surprise since the Philippines had earlier stated its support to the “two-State policy” concerning the Israeli-Palestine issue.
Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) belatedly issued a statement saying that it has always supported the policy of two-States for two peoples as a long-term solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian.
The DFA statement came more than a week after Trump made the announcement that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that the US embassy will be moved there.
The DFA added that this position is consistent with the way the Philippines voted on the Partition Plan for Palestine in the United Nations in 1947.
The two-state policy refers to a solution of the Israeli Palestinian that envisages an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, which the latter has rejected.
A senior diplomat contacted by the Manila Bulletin said “damned if we voted for condemning the resolution and damned if we voted against, even knowing that by abstaining we are not consistent with our established two-State position on the Palestine issue.”
The Philippines could have been in a better position if it did not participate in the voting, alongside with 19 others who were absent during the process, says the diplomat who requested anonymity.
On the eve of the UN voting, the US president has threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars of US aid from countries that will vote in favor of the UN resolution condemning his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.