WASHINGTON: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley assailed the Obama administration on Wednesday for failing to block a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned Israel’s settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
She pledged to reject future measures that she said unfairly targeted the Jewish state if confirmed as President-elect Donald Trump’s U.N. ambassador.
Haley told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during her confirmation hearing that if she’s approved for the post she won’t go to New York and “abstain when the U.N. seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel.”
She told the committee the U.N. resolution was “a terrible mistake” that makes a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians harder to achieve.
Haley also said the U.N. has a “long history of anti-Israel bias,” and that during the most recent U.N. General Assembly session, the international body adopted 20 resolutions against Israel “and only six targeting the rest of the world’s countries combined.”
Haley acknowledged that she is new to international diplomacy.
But she said while the U.N. has had many successes, citing health and food programs that have saved millions of lives, “any honest assessment also finds an institution that is often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers.”
The United States contributes 22 percent of the organization’s budget, and Haley questioned whether such a sizeable investment is worthwhile.
“We are a generous nation,” Haley said. “But we must ask ourselves what good is being accomplished by this disproportionate contribution. Are we getting what we pay for?”
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat, said that despite the U.N. shortcomings, “it is almost impossible to imagine a world without the U.N.”
He emphasized the need to strengthen America’s alliances, particularly in light of Trump’s view that NATO is “obsolete.”
“We need to be reassuring our allies, not threatening to abandon them,” Cardin told Haley.
Last December, Israel and its supporters lashed out at Obama for his decision to abstain and allow the U.N. Security Council to approve the resolution, which called the Israeli settlements “a flagrant violation under international law.”
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused Obama of a “shameful ambush” and said he was looking forward to working with Trump, whom he described as his friend.
But Secretary of State John Kerry defended the decision in a speech last month, saying the U.S. was standing up for a two-state solution when it abstained on the resolution.
He criticized Israel for settlement building and blamed Netanyahu for dragging Israel away from democracy.
Kerry said expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are leading to an “irreversible one-state reality.”
Haley’s remarks before the Senate committee are consistent with Republican outrage over the decision and Trump’s stated commitment to Israel.
The GOP-led House earlier this month overwhelmingly approved a non-binding measure that rebuked the U.N. and declared unwavering support for Israel.
The House also insisted that the United States reject any future U.N. actions that are similarly “one-sided and anti-Israel.”
The South Carolina-born daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley at 38 became the nation’s youngest governor in January 2011 and was easily re-elected in 2014. She turns 45 on Friday.
She described the difficulties of growing up in a small rural community in the South because her family was different.
“We were not white enough to be white, not black enough to be black.” Haley said.
“My father wore a turban, my mother a sari. Our new neighbors didn’t quite know what to make of us, and so we faced challenges.”—AP