Trump threat to cut aid raises stakes in UN Jerusalem vote
President Donald Trump's threat to cut off US funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital has raised the stakes in Thursday's UN vote and sparked criticism at his tactics, which one Muslim group called bullying or blackmail.
Trump went a step further than US Ambassador Nikki Haley who hinted in a tweet and a letter to most of the 193 UN member states on Tuesday that the US would retaliate against countries that vote in favour of a General Assembly resolution calling on the president to rescind his decision.
Haley said the president asked her to report back on countries "who voted against us" – and she stressed that the United States "will be taking names."
At the start of a cabinet meeting in Washington on Wednesday, with Haley sitting nearby, Trump told reporters that Americans are tired of being taken advantage of and praised the US ambassador for sending the "right message" before the vote.
"For all these nations, they take our money and then vote against us. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars and then they vote against us," Trump told reporters at the Cabinet meeting. "We're watching those votes. Let them vote against us."
"We'll save a lot. We don't care," he said, alluding to US aid.
Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tweeted after Trump's comments: "Our government should not use its leadership at the UN to bully/blackmail other nations that stand for religious liberty and justice in Jerusalem. Justice is a core value of Christianity, Judaism and Islam."
The Palestinians and their Arab and Islamic supporters sought the General Assembly vote after the United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel's capital and not move the US Embassy there. (AP)