An emergency UN General Assembly meeting passed a resolution calling for the US to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital as well as its decision to move the US embassy there. A total of 128 countries backed the resolution, nine voted against and 35 abstained. Twenty-one countries did not cast a vote.
Washington had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that wished to vote in favor of the resolution. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley repeated that threat just before the Thursday vote.
Washington's threat appeared to have a certain impact, with more countries rejecting and abstaining the resolution than usual.
However, if we take a closer look at the vote, we will find that the nine countries which voted against the resolution, other than the US and Israel, are mostly Central American and Southern Pacific countries (five of which have "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan) that are highly dependent on foreign aid with limited influence on international affairs.
The most influential countries that did not cast a vote or abstained are Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and Australia. The first two are neighbors of the US and members of North American Free Trade Agreement. The latter two are allies of the US. Romania, Hungary and several other Central and Eastern European countries also abstained in the vote.
The most influential countries in the world other than the US including Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, major members of the EU, Japan and South Korea all voted in favor of the resolution. All Islamic countries voted in favor including Egypt, a major recipient of US aid. The 128 countries voted in favor account for roughly two-thirds of the UN's 193 members. From the perspective of population, these countries account for roughly 90 percent of the world's population.
The vote has gained such global attention largely thanks to repeated threats from the US. The vote has tested the US capability to bend other countries with its hegemony to unwillingly support or not object to a wrongful US decision.
The result must have disappointed Washington. A majority of the world's countries and their population ignored the US threat or refused to obey a US command such as this one. Some were due to religious beliefs but there were also pragmatic considerations weighing gains and losses. To some countries, not offending a wide range of Muslim countries is more important than pleasing the Trump administration.
When Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, he said he believed that decision will eventually be understood and it would serve as a new starting point for the Israel-Palestine peace process. However, the UN vote showed great divergence between the US and the rest of the world on this issue. The US has further isolated itself morally when it forced the world to cater to its wrongdoing.
Washington should know by now that the US is not almighty nor a representative of universal values. The US has important shortfalls and limits, and its arrogance is not sustained by matching prowess and moral high ground. The world has seen this point whether or not Washington itself is able to recognize it.