Antigua and Barbuda abstains on UN Jerusalem resolution

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Antigua and Barbuda was among 35 countries abstaining on a U.N. resolution condemning the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move which has triggered violent clashes and angered the Arab world.
Thursday’s non-binding resolution called on the U.S. to reverse its stance on Jerusalem, which the Palestinian people want as the capital of their future state. Jerusalem is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Charles Fernandez, the foreign affairs minister, told OBSERVER media on Friday that the country abstained because of uncertainty surrounding CARICOM’s position.
“The idea was for CARICOM to vote en bloc but there was so much uncertainty between member states that we decided to abstain,” Fernandez said.
The other CARICOM countries abstaining were the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, while Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname were among the 128 countries supporting the censure of the U.S. decision.
Nine countries opposed the resolution, while according to information from the U.N., 21 countries did not turn up for the vote.
Antigua and Barbuda has been courting Middle Eastern investments in recent years and establishing closer diplomatic relations with the cash-rich nations in that region.
Fernandez, earlier this month, signed an anti-terrorism accord in Jordan during a visit which followed the October call of Prime Minister Gaston Browne on the kingdom.
The PM had met King Abdullah II and talks had included expanding bilateral co-operation as a result of their countries’ new diplomatic relations.
Antigua and Barbuda also has diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates. At last year’s announcement of plans to open a trade and investment office in the capital, Abu Dhabi, Fernandez had said its mission would include promoting investment in the hotel and tourism sector, real estate, and the dissemination of accurate and timely information on the Citizenship by Investment Programme.
The U.S. permanent representative at the U.N, Nikki Haley, had stated that President Donald Trump would be noting which countries supported the resolution with an eye on withholding financial aid to those states.
But Fernandez told OBSERVER media that the U.S. threat did not influence Antigua and Barbuda’s abstention.
And in what could be taken as a sign of intentions to make good on the threat, the U.S. has invited the 65 countries that did not vote for the resolution to a reception on January 3, reportedly to thank them for their support.  
CARICOM support for a sovereign Palestinian state has traditionally been divided. In 2011, the Baldwin Spencer-led Antigua and Barbuda government had recognised the State of Palestine as an independent sovereign state.

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