The Trump administration has drawn a line in the sand, threatening to cut off aid to nations that piled on in a United Nations resolution denouncing the United States’ decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“The United States will remember this day, in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very right of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said before yesterday’s vote.

“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” she said. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

By a vote of 128-9, with 35 abstentions and 21 absent, the historically anti-Israel U.N. General Assembly passed a nonbinding measure demanding the United States rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Among the nations backing the resolution were staunch allies such as Great Britain, Germany and France.

Trump — who campaigned on “America first” and has accused the U.N. of causing more problems than it solves — threatened to scale back or even eliminate foreign aid to its critics.

“For all these nations, they take our money and then vote against us. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump said.

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“We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. … We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Peter Brookes, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, applauded the president and ambassador, saying, “It’s not clear what actions might be taken, but both the president and our U.N. ambassador make a very good point of how America can be taken for granted, especially at the United Nations.

“The United States is an indispensable nation — from ISIS to North Korea to China, Russia and Iran,” Brookes said. “Good luck dealing with those challenges without us. The General Assembly should remember that — and we shouldn’t be shy about reminding them.”

After the vote, Haley drove the point home, tweeting an image of the countries that either voted no, abstained, or were absent.

“We appreciate these countries for not falling to the irresponsible ways of the @UN,” Haley tweeted.

The resolution reaffirmed the U.N.’s stand on Jerusalem — that the Holy City must be decided in direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution “preposterous.” The Trump administration quickly reiterated that the resolution won’t change the United States’ plans for the embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The U.S. plans to hand out nearly $26 billion in foreign aid in 2018 — including to countries that went against the U.S. by voting for the resolution, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa.

Other experts called out Trump’s language as little more than empty rhetoric designed to polish a political image.

“This is just a general threat to show to his base that he is putting America first because I can’t really think he’s going to influence the policies of most of the countries he’s talking to,” said Jeswald Salacuse, a professor of international negotiations at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Salacuse also doubted Trump will stop funding Egypt and Jordan, who defied the U.S. yesterday on the resolution, but still annually accept more than $1 billion each in aid.

“That would be like shooting ourselves in the foot to cut off aid to them,” Salacuse said, “because they’re part of the military net that we have built to deal with terror and to keep stability.”

Herald wire services contributed to this report.

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(c)2017 the Boston Herald

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