The logic behind Bhutan’s stand on the UN vote over Jerusalem

Bhutan decided to go for abstention in the recent United Nations resolution against the decision of the USA to establish an Embassy in Jerusalem, for carefully calculated national interest reasons.

This is according to two senior government figures one of whom is in the Foreign Ministry but they did not want to be identified.

The UN vote saw 128 voting in favor of the resolution condemning the move, 9 voting against it in support of the USA, 35 countries including Bhutan abstained and 21 did not even participate at all.

The senior Foreign Ministry official said that what must first be made clear is that Bhutan has not abandoned the Palestine two state solution, and Bhutan has historically supported and continues to support the issue of Palestine and its people.

The official said that the UN resolution was in reaction to the USA taking its own decision to move its own embassy to Jerusalem.

The official said that the UN vote was an independent decision taken by Bhutan.

There has been some discussion in India in some circles on how while India voted against the move made by the USA, Bhutan took a different stand with abstention.

Not referring to any countries by name, the official said that Bhutan votes independently in the UN while at the same time keeping its diplomatic interests in mind.

The official said Bhutan had four choices on the vote. One was for voting for the resolution which would be a condemnation of the USA, second was voting against it which would go against the Palestinian cause supported by Bhutan, third was being absent which would mean Bhutan did not even show up and thus did not have any impact.

Bhutan opted for the fourth choice of showing up and voting for absentation on the issue which was a neutral stand in not joining 128 countries to condemn the US move and at the same time not giving up the Palestinian cause.

The US moving its embassy to Jerusalem was a symbolic move to recognize it as the capital city of Israel. However, the US President Donald Trump was careful to say that this does not mean that the USA says that the entire Jerusalem belongs to Israel and he also did not rule out the division of the city between Israel and a future Palestinian state. This is because a future Palestinian state sees East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Foreign ministry official said that another reason that drove Bhutan’s well thought out decision was the fact that USA by now has hosted close to a 100,000 people from the camps helping resolve a major issue facing Bhutan. This is far above the original 60,000 it had promised to resettle from the camps in Nepal. This is especially so at a time when the USA has been quite conservative in resettling foreign people in its own country.

This was also confirmed by another senior figure in the government who is also aware of the issue.

They both said it is a nod to the USA for its contribution on the issue and at the same time an affirmation of the growing and warm ties between the two countries. The USA for a while has been taking interest in Bhutan and has gone out of its way to develop friendly ties with the country.

Bhutan’s UN Mission in New York asked what decision was to be taken on the vote to the Foreign Ministry which discussed the issue and then took a final decision keeping senior leaders in the loop.

The senior government official said that Bhutan’s vote was driven purely by national interest.

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