Israel's envoy welcomes pick for UN

"Maybe we will stop being the whipping boy of the UN," Gabriela Shalev tells Post.

susan rice 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
susan rice 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel's UN ambassador welcomed US president-elect Barack Obama's nomination of Susan Rice, a Clinton administration veteran known as a vocal critic of political inaction against the genocide in Darfur, to be his envoy to the UN. "It will be a different focus, and it's about time - maybe we will stop being the whipping boy of the UN," Ambassador Gabriela Shalev told The Jerusalem Post on Monday as Obama introduced Rice at a press conference in Washington. Rice, 44, who was a senior foreign policy adviser for Obama's presidential campaign, served as a senior adviser for national security affairs and as an assistant secretary of state for African affairs under Clinton. She oversaw the Clinton administration's response to the 1998 al-Qaida bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. After witnessing the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, she vowed to never let it happen again, telling The Atlantic Monthly in a 2001 interview "I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action." She vowed at a news conference announcing her nomination to use international diplomacy to "meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century to prevent conflict, to promote peace, combat terrorism, prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons, tackle climate change, end genocide, fight poverty and disease." Signalling a departure from the Bush administration's ambivalence toward the UN, she said she would "work constructively" within the UN to achieve reform. If confirmed by the US Senate, Rice will serve as a member of Obama's cabinet, restoring the position to a level of seniority not seen since the Clinton administration. "She shares my belief that the UN is an indispensable and imperfect forum," Obama told the news conference. "She will carry the message that our commitment to multilateral action must be coupled with a commitment to reform." Shalev said she looked forward to the US becoming increasingly active on the UN stage, not just on issues directly relating to Israel and the peace process but on questions of human rights worldwide, particularly in crisis zones like Darfur and Zimbabwe. "There are so many resolutions, so many issues," she told the Post. Shalev, who has been an advocate of women's rights in her brief stint at the UN, added that she hoped Rice would also help attract attention to women's issues. Rice, a former management consultant, began her White House career overseeing peacekeeping operations.