Nikki Haley tells Security Council the US has 'every right to' place its embassy at a location of its choosing.
The U.S. on Monday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that rejects the establishment of diplomatic facilities in the contested city of Jerusalem, breaking with the rest of the council.
The move comes less than two weeks after Washington moved to recognize the holy city as Israel's capital and begin the process to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv -- the city where all other nations house their main diplomatic facilities.
Fourteen council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-sponsored resolution that would have demanded U.S. President Donald Trump reverse course on the decision. The U.S. was the sole dissenting vote.
Jerusalem's status has long been considered a final status issue to be determined by Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and Trump's decision is widely seen as undercutting that long-standing understanding. East Jerusalem, which Palestinians are seeking as the capital of their state, was occupied by Israel in 1967.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN's special coordinator for Middle East peace, said Trump's decision has created a "more tense” situation in the region.
A “lack of significant steps on the ground” towards a long-sought two-state solution is empowering radicals and weakening moderates, Mladenov told the council.
"The weakening of the international architecture in support of peace is increasing the risks to the region," he said.
Also speaking prior to the vote, the U.S.'s envoy to the UN said the U.S. has "every right to" place its embassy at a location of its choosing. Nikki Haley slammed the UN's efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace, saying the international body "sets back the cause of peace”.
Last year, under the Barack Obama administration, the U.S. opted to abstain from a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, allowing it to pass the body.
The U.S. is Israel's biggest ally, giving the country more than $3 billion in military aid annually, and regularly using its veto power in the Security Council to protect it from international condemnation.
The U.S. is one of the five permanent members of the council, and has the right to veto any resolutions it chooses.
The United Kingdom, a fellow permanent member, voted in favor of the council's resolution, its envoy said, because it fell in line with London's long-standing position on Jerusalem's status.
"Our view is that the issue of Jerusalem is a final status issue, that Jerusalem should be a shared capitol for Israelis and for Palestinians, and the U.K. Embassy, for now, will remain in Tel Aviv," Matthew Rycroft told reporters before the vote.