Esther Brimmer 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – A senior US State Department official warned Wednesday that cutting
US dues to the United Nations, even in an attempt to prevent the General
Assembly from unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state, would hurt America’s
ability to make Israel’s case at the international body.
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“One constant we
hear from Israeli counterparts is how much they appreciate the administration’s
efforts and USIsraeli cooperation at the UN and multilaterally,” US Assistant
Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer told
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The United States must maintain
the strongest position it can at the UN, and that means paying our bills on time
and in full.”
She continued, “We are more credible politically when we
fulfill our treaty obligations and contribute to work that advances our
interests. When we are delinquent, it impairs our ability to advance US
interests and effective cooperation on key security threats at the
Brimmer raised the specter that cutting back funding to the UN could
damage that partnership and hurt both countries’ interests, including getting
international sanctions on Iran, nonproliferation enforcement at the UN’s
International Atomic Energy Agency and cutting off terrorist funds through a
cross-borders tracking system.
Her comments come as Congressional
Republicans have floated the idea that the US would reduce its contributions to
UN agencies that recognize a Palestinian state, as the General Assembly might
consider doing during its opening session in September.
In addition, the
UN is seen as a likely target of budget cuts as Republicans have focused on
trimming the US deficit and have been particularly critical of US international
“The United States cannot afford failed short-term tactics
that have long-term implications for our security, and we must be a responsible
global leader, and that means paying our bills,” Brimmer said.
warned against limiting US participation in some UN bodies, with critics
charging that the United States shouldn’t have joined the Human Rights Council
as it routinely singles out Israel and overlooks worse offenders.
bodies, including the Human Rights Council, have improved as the result of
direct US engagement,” she argued. “If we cede ground, if our engagement in the
UN system is restricted, these bodies likely would be dominated by our
adversaries. A scenario where power vacuums are filled by adversaries is not
good for the United States and certainly not for Israel.”
acknowledging that the council has continued to take action the US disapproves
of – including a permanent agenda item devoted to Israel – she said the US was
continuing to work on those challenges.
Brimmer also reiterated earlier
statements by the White House and State Department that the US was opposed to a
unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN.