U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The US may have policy differences with Israel on Iran and its nuclear program, but its commitment to Israel’s security will never falter, Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday.
Addressing over 16,000 assembled AIPAC delegates, Power, one of two senior representatives of the Obama administration sent to the conference, was warmly received amid tensions between Washington and Jerusalem over a pending conclusion in the nuclear talks.
Referencing reports that the US has proposed to Iran a sunset on specific provisions of a comprehensive agreement, which would ease after a 10-year period, Power suggested such a deal would not compromise America’s commitment to preventing Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons.
“There will never be a sunset to America’s commitment to Israel’s security.
Never,” she said.
Power’s remarks were the most extensive from a senior administration official on the state of US-Israel relations since conflict between the allies first spilled into the public sphere roughly a month ago, upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation to address a joint session of Congress. He will deliver that address on Tuesday.
Power smiled when referencing anticipation for the speech, in between a broad outline of US President Barack Obama’s commitment to Israel in international fora.
“You may have heard lately of tension in relationship between US and Israel,” Power said, calling on the crowd to “separate out politics, policy, and what the US does each and every day to combat anti-Semitism around the world, and fight attacks against Israel at the UN.”
“We believe, firmly, that Israel’s security and the US-Israeli partnership transcends politics, and always will,” she continued. Quoting a verse uttered by president John F. Kennedy in 1960, Power said: “the bond between the US and Israel is still a national commitment.
And it should never be a partisan matter.”
Touting the president’s defense of Israel in various bodies of the United Nations, Power noted her personal leadership in the Security Council, which has begun condemning attacks on Israel under her tenure there. The Obama administration has cast several sole “no” votes on anti-Israel resolutions, she continued, including at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“It is bitterly unjust that the UN – founded on the idea all nations be treated equally – is often used to treat Israel unequally ,” she said to applause.
Power’s comments came just hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a similar line in Geneva, condemning the Human Rights Council as being “obsessively” biased against the Jewish state.
Power also noted US opposition to 18 anti-Israel proposals handed down in the General Assembly last autumn. “Going forward, all countries need to be held to their pledges” against racism and anti-Semitism that they have signed onto, Power said.
And i n the wake of a widely- maligned ad placed by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in The New York Times over the weekend , Power praised the work of National Security Adviser and former UN ambassador Susan Rice at several points in her speech .
Referring to Rice as a “colleague and dear friend , ” Power said that Rice has worked tirelessly on the Iranian issue and Iran sanctions. The president’s national security adviser address ed AIPAC herself on Monday night.