New Zealand has voted at the United Nations against the United States' move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly rejected the Trump administration's decision to recognise Jerusalem, which was repeatedly criticised as undermining the prospects for peace. Until now, US policy has been to avoid declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, as the Palestinians also claim it.

Despite blunt warnings of US funding cuts, 128 countries voted in favour of the nonbinding resolution and only nine voted against it.

Another 35 countries abstained, including Australia and Canada.


Foreign Minister Winston Peters said New Zealand sided with the majority of UN member states.

"The resolution reflects New Zealand's long-held support for a two-state solution to the conflict," he said this morning.

"The resolution called for the acceleration of efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. This is something we all can support."

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signalled the country would stand against the US, earlier saying the move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital threatened peace.

But Washington lashed out, saying the United States would remember the day it was singled out for exercising its right as a sovereign nation.

"We will remember it when, once again, we are called up to make the world's largest contribution to the UN, and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit," said Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN.

Ardern this morning told Tim Dower on Newstalk ZB that New Zealand had always held the same position and added that it would be premature to vote otherwise until there had been a peaceful resolution.

"New Zealand has long supported the two-state solution. This is not about any other nations relative position be it Australia or be it the United States, it's about maintaining our independent foreign policy and our position around support of that two-state solution so I don't think it should be something that is framed that is for or against the US."


When questioned why not, Ardern said anything that happened before it was resolved "would be premature".

"Certainly any moves like those taken by the US don't take us any further towards that resolution and that's the argument that New Zealand has made and obviously a number of other countries have made that point as well so to sit alongside hundreds of other countries I think it's fair to say that there's a real sentiment there, but yes, ultimately we need to find a peaceful solution but that's what needs to come first."

Haley said the US Embassy would move to Jerusalem regardless of the vote.

"No vote in the United Nations is going to make any difference on that," she said. "But this vote will make a difference in how Americans look at the UN and how we look at countries that disrespect us at the UN. And this vote will be remembered."

US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, right, votes against a resolution rejecting the US' stance on Jerusalem's status as Israel's capital. Photo / AP
US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, right, votes against a resolution rejecting the US' stance on Jerusalem's status as Israel's capital. Photo / AP

Although the measure is nonbinding, it carries political resonance, particularly in the Middle East where the US decision has sparked protests and been condemned by Arab governments. Underscoring the US isolation on the issue, even many allies have publicly appealed to the administration to reverse its position and leave Jerusalem's status undecided until Israelis and Palestinians negotiate terms.

The list of countries whose representatives came to the podium included many adversaries that have squared off with the Trump Administration, including Venezuela, Syria and North Korea. They all portrayed Trump's December 6 decision to recognise Jerusalem and move the embassy as a boon for extremists and an obstacle to peace.