Trump's U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Pledges to End 'Israel-Bashing'

Nikki Haley
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations NIkki Haley speaks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, U.S., March 27. She vowed to end "Israel-bashing" at the world body. Reuters/Joshua Roberts

The U.S. envoy to the United Nations condemned the global body in an address to a pro-Israel lobby group on Monday, pledging to end its perceived "Israel-bashing."

Speaking at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference for the first time as President Donald Trump's U.N. envoy, Nikki Haley called a December resolution criticizing Israeli settlement construction—allowed to pass by the Obama's administration's abstention—as a "kick in the gut" to Americans.

"For anyone who says you can't get anything done at the U.N., they need to know there is a new sheriff in town," she continued. "I'm not there to play games and what I wanted to make sure of is that the United States started leading again."

Haley has embarked on her role at the U.N. criticizing the body for its "bias against our close ally Israel" in light of complaints from Netanyahu's government that it is unfairly treated in the global arena.

Read more: U.N. says Israel ignoring demand to end settlement building

When one of the body's agencies, the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), released a report earlier this month that denounced Israel for creating what it called an "apartheid regime" over the Palestinians, Haley applied the pressure that saw that agency's chief resign.

In February when the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres sought to appoint former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the body's envoy to Libya, Haley moved to block the appointment.

"For too long, the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel," Haley said. "Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies."

In one of the Obama administration's final policy moves towards an Israeli government with who relations had become increasingly strained, it abstained on Resolution 2334, which called for an end to Israeli settlement building. Following the vote, Haley's predecessor Samantha Power said that the resolution "reflects the facts on the ground."

Then president-elect, Trump criticized the abstention in a tweet, writing that his task as a peace broker would now be "much harder." Trump made a series of pro-Israel statements on the campaign trail, pledging to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and calling on Israel to continue settlement building.

He has appeared to rein in his rhetoric since his January 20 inauguration, last month calling on Netanyahu to "hold off a little" on settlement construction, which he had earlier called "not good" for peace. He also said it was "too early" to talk about the embassy move.

However, since December, Israel's right-wing government has continued to build settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in opposition to the resolution. It has approved thousands of new settlement units, announced the creation of the first settlement in two decades and passed a bill that legalized outposts built illegally on private Palestinian land in the West Bank.

The majority of the international community views Israeli settlements as illegal structures built on land the Palestinians have earmarked for any future state. The Palestinians seek a state incorporating the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel, which captured and occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, views the entirety of Jerusalem as its eternal capital, and the West Bank as the biblical homeland of the Jews, referring to the territory by the religious terms Judea and Samaria.

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