NIKKI HALEY, US Ambassador to the UN..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US Nikki Haley is a modern version of a Western style sheriff, defending Israel in every verbal shootout at the United Nations.
And to make it better, she did it all in heels, with a smile, while staring down at what she referred to as the moral cesspool of a hypocritical United Nations that applauded human rights abusers and attacked democracies like Israel.
To be fair, of course, it was US President Donald Trump who called the shots. But it was Haley who did with a special pizazz that touched the heart of Israelis and right-wing Jewish Americans.
There was the time that she boldly told Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, “I will not shut up”
and there was her decision to walk out of the United Nations prior to a speech by the Palestinian envoy.
The Obama Administration was hardly a wilting wallflower when it came to defending Israel at the United Nations. Obama’s envoys predictably voted “no” on every issue of Israel bias, at the Human Rights Council, at UNESCO, the General Assembly and the Security Council. It faltered only once, when it failed to veto a UN Security anti-settlement resolution in its final months.
The former governor of South Carolina, she assumed UN office on January 27, 2016 and together with Trump, redefined what it meant to support Israel on the world stage, making a “no” vote seem like a passé exercise.
Haley worked hard behind the scenes to push UN member states to eliminate the UN Human Rights Council’s infamous Agenda Item 7 that forces it to perpetually debate alleged Israeli human rights abuses.
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During Haley’s almost two years in office, the US pulled out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Human Rights Council.
She persistently questioned the ability of the UN to handle global human rights abuses. She was a vocal supporter of the US decision to withdraw its funding from the Untied Nations Relief and Works Agency. Nor was she happy with its transference of refugee status to the descendants of the Palestinians who lost their homes as a result of the 1948 War of Independence, fleeing what would become sovereign Israel.“I absolutely think we have to look at the right of return,” she said.
Haley was also strong supporter of the US decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, defending it on the UN floor. She visited Jerusalem while in office, including the Western Wall.
And she was blunt in telling United Nations member states that they could hardly expect to continue to receive US support if they did not stand in solidarity with it at the UN, including in its defense of Israel. Haley did her best to change the way the body handled Israel, including its monthly meetings on the Middle East, which often skip over or minimize issues such as Syria and Iran to become a slug-fest against Israel.
Haley worked, albeit unsuccessfully, to refocus the conversation on the broader Middle East, particularly Iran. Together with Israel she began to work on a new offensive strategy, and introduced amendments to otherwise problematic anti-Israel texts. In particular, she attempted to push the UN General Assembly and Security Council to condemn Hamas violence against Israel. “The people from Gaza do not need protection from an external source, the people of Gaza need protection from Hamas,” she said.
Then just when it seemed like the smoke couldn’t rise fast enough from her diplomatic guns, she shocked everyone by announcing that she was riding off into the sunset.
The Trump Administration is likely to continue its strong pro-Israel stance at the UN in her absence, but it is hard to imagine another ambassador that could turn a defense of Israel into the same glamorous high noon drama.
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