US envoy to the UN Susan Rice 311 (R).
(photo credit: Brendan McDermid / Reuters)
Israel has no greater friend at the United Nations than the US, US Ambassador
Susan Rice told a group of rabbis at the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee annual conference in Washington on Monday.
During her speech,
the ambassador reiterated the main message delivered by President Barack Obama
at the conference the day before: That despite criticism from detractors his
administration has been consistently committed to supporting the Jewish
“[Obama’s] guidance to us all has been crystal clear: To
strengthen and deepen America’s special relationship with Israel rooted in
common interests and values,” she said.
Rice spoke about the “unshakable”
relationship with Israel and the importance of tikun olam, Hebrew for “repair
The diplomat took the opportunity of speaking to a group of
Jewish Americans to recite a song she first learned during her first trip to
Israel with her parents as a child.
“Hineh ma tov umanaim, shevet ahim
gam yahad,” she said, carefully enunciating the Hebrew words for “how good and
pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to sit together.”
“I’ll take some
lessons afterwards,” she quipped.
Rice reminded the audience that the US
vetoed the Palestinian attempt to seek statehood recognition at the UN last
September. It was a decision “which won little applause,” she said, quoting
Obama’s speech from Sunday.
At the same time, she said the US was
committed to a two-state solution.
“We remain determined not to rest
until a democratic and peaceful state of Israel lives side by side with a viable
and secure Palestinian state,” Rice said. “Two states living together
with peace and security.”
Israel is often isolated at the UN, where it is
outnumbered by its enemies.
However, as international attention over the
past year has focused on the turmoil in the Arab world and human rights
violations in places such as Syria and Libya, some of the opprobrium usually
directed towards Israel has abated.
That has left it with an opportunity
to advance its interests at the international organization headquartered in New
In January, for instance, an Israeli representative was voted for
the first time ever to the executive board of the United Nations Development
Program, a top UN agency with a budget of about a billion dollars.
same month the Security Council condemned attacks widely believed to have been
carried out by Iran on Israeli diplomats in India and Thailand – the first it
has done so in seven years.
Rice said “not one day goes by” that her team
does not work together with the Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor and the
She said that the UN, in itself, was not to blame for
“marginalizing or maligning” Israel. Rather, the member states should be held
accountable for their policies.
“Blaming the UN when things go wrong is
like blaming Madison Square Garden when the Knicks are losing,” she said,
quoting one of her predecessors, the late Richard Holbrooke.