South Carolina Govenor Nikki Haley.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US Senate confirmed South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as US Ambassador to the UN, officially making Haley another member of the national security team US President Donald Trump is rounding up.
In the vote that took place on Tuesday an evident majority of 96 senators backed Haley, with only four opposing her.
Those in opposition were three Democratic senators (Tom Udall, Chris Coons and Martin Heinrich) and Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats.
Explaining his opposition, Senator Chris Coons said that "the position of US ambassador to the United Nations requires a high level of expertise on international affairs, not someone who will be learning the job."
In his statement Coons referred to Haley's lack of foreign policy experience, with others joining in his criticism of Trump' pick and noting that Haley has only ever held office in the US state.
Haley was easily approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier on Tuesday, with only two of the committee's 21 members raising objection (Democratic senators Coons and Udall.)
Haley is expected to be received with open arms not just by the US Senate, but also by the Israeli government and public, who are well aware of Haley's explicit and publicly expressed support of the State of Israel.
At her Senate confirmation hearing she directed her criticism at the UN, slamming the world body for what she deemed a "mistreatment" of Israel, referring to Resolution 2334 the UN's Security Council passed in December 2016.
The resolution, which called on Israel to halt its construction of settlement, evoked stunned and angered reactions from the Israeli government, particularly from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who turned an accusatory finger in the direction of then-President Barack Obama and his administration, who chose not to exercise their ability to veto the vote on the resolution.
Nikki Haley accepts nomination for US Envoy to the UN , Nov. 23, 2016
"Friends don't take friends to the UN," Netanyahu said at the time, with other prominent Israeli politicians from the Right calling on the premier to approve an annexation of major West Bank cities in defiance of the resolution.
In her hearing, Haley spoke of the resolution as a message suggesting that "being an ally of the United States doesn't mean anything."
She went on to promise that when she will act as US Ambassador to the UN she will "not go to New York and abstain when the UN seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel."
Haley also stated that she "will never abstain when the United Nations takes any action that comes in direct conflict with the interests and values of the United States."
Speaking specifically about the settlements issue, Haley admitted that she did "understand how they can think that can hinder peace. But, at the same time, I will always stand with Israel."
Haley also touched on another pressing issue that has occupied Palestinians and Israeli leaders alike for the past weeks: President Trump's declared intention to relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Haley said that she would "absolutely" support the move, which Trump's elected Israel envoy, David Friedman, is expected to lead.
Speaking about a possible resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Haley spoke favorably of a two-state solution, saying that she "had not heard anything different" from fellow Trump administration officials.
She also appeared to side with the opposing voices who claimed that the Obama administration did not do everything in its power to defend Israel from the UN resolution, saying that "we made Israel more vulnerable- we made America more vulnerable in that we did not stand by our allies."
While it remains to be seen what steps Haley will initially take in her role, Israeli officials are almost certain to look forward to seeing her follow through on the promise she made to uphold "moral clarity" in Washington's UN mission under her leadership.
Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon expressed gratitude to Haley at the time of her confirmation hearing, stating officially that Israel was "looking forward to working with her in full cooperation in order to undo the damage of the shameful Security Council resolution."Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report.