President Donald Trump has threatened to cut aid to countries that vote against the United States at the Dec. 21 United Nations General Assembly.
The General Assembly will meet for a rare emergency session to discuss Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, according to Reuters. The U.S. vetoed a resolution in the Security Council Dec. 18 calling for Jerusalem's status not to be altered unless through peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us," Trump said Dec. 20 at the White House, Reuters reported. "Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care."
In a letter addressed to over 180 General Assembly members Dec. 19, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley wrote that Trump has asked her to "report back on those countries who voted against us." She also stated Dec. 19 that the U.S. would be "taking names" of those countries voting against Washington.
While Israel argues Jerusalem is its capital, the Palestinians want the eastern part of the city to become their capital. Israel captured eastern Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move that was not recognized under international law.
Miroslav Lajcak, president of the General Assembly, avoided commenting directly on Trump's remarks.
"It's the right and responsibility of member states to express their views," he said.
Haley's letter prompted a stronger response from an anonymous Middle Eastern diplomat who spoke to Reuters.
"States resort to such blatant bullying only when they know they do not have a moral or legal argument to convince others."
Another diplomat suggested Haley was attempting to strengthen her profile domestically.
"She's not going to win any votes in the General Assembly or the Security Council, but she is going to win some votes in the U.S. population," the diplomat added.
The Turkish and Palestinian foreign ministers accused the U.S. of intimidation.
"No honorable state would bow to such pressure," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated, according to ABC News. "The world has changed. The belief that 'I am strong therefore I am right' has changed. The world today is revolting against injustices."
Domestic organizations in the U.S. also spoke out.
"Our government should not use its leadership at the UN to bully and blackmail other nations that stand for religious liberty and justice in Jerusalem," said Nihad Awad, national executive director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Justice is a core value of Christianity, Judaism and Islam."