(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Monday that by putting countries there “on notice,” and by “actually act[ing] on what we say,” the new administration is working on changing the culture at the world body, and demonstrating that “we can do a lot.”
And when it comes to “Israel-bashing” at the U.N., she said, the U.S. was going beyond just “giving the speech.” Instead, she said, it had acted on its words by blocking the appointment of a Palestinian to a senior post, and getting the secretary-general to pull a report accusing Israel of “apartheid.”
“So for anyone that says you can't get anything done at the U.N., they need to know there's a new sheriff in town.”
Haley drew an enthusiastic response at the AIPAC annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., as she laid out the administration’s approach to an institution infamous for its hostility towards Israel.
The U.S. had made two things clear from the outset.
“I wear heels,” she said. “It's not for a fashion statement. It's because if I see something wrong, we're going to kick them every single time.”
“So how are we kicking? We're kicking by, number one, putting everybody on notice, saying that if you have our back – we're going to have the backs of our friends, but our friends need to have our back, too,” Haley said.
“If you challenge us, be prepared for what you’re challenging us for, because we will respond,” she said.
“The next thing we did was we said, ‘the days of Israel-bashing are over.’ We have a lot of things to talk about. There are a lot of threats to peace and security. But you're not going to take our number one democratic friend in the Middle East and beat up on them.”
Haley said those hostile to Israel were “all backing up a little bit. The Israel-bashing is not as loud.”
She then cited two examples.
After U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last month nominated former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as a U.N. envoy in Libya, Haley nixed the move.
“When they decided to try and put a Palestinian in one of the highest positions that had ever been given at the U.N., we said no and we had him booted out,” she said.
“That doesn't mean he wasn’t a nice man; that doesn’t mean he wasn’t good to America,” she continued. “What it means is, until the Palestinian Authority comes to the table, until the U.N. responds the way they’re supposed to, there are no freebees for the Palestinian Authority anymore.”
The U.S. has long opposed efforts by the P.A. to upgrade its status at the world body and affiliated agencies, and U.S. law withholds federal funding from any U.N. body that admits it as a full member.
The U.N. General Assembly in 2012 upgraded the status of what it calls the “state of Palestine” from “observer entity” to “non-member observer state.”
The U.S. and Israel see the moves as part of an effort to bypass direct negotiations between the two sides and have the international community bestow an independent state on the Palestinians.
The second example cited by Haley occurred this month, when a Beirut-based body called the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) issued a report declaring Israel “guilty of the crime of apartheid.”
The report was co-authored by Richard Falk, a Princeton international law scholar with a long record of harsh criticism of Israel.
“So then they tested us again,” said Haley. “And a ridiculous report, the Falk report, came out. I don’t know who the guy is or what he's about, but he's got serious problems – goes and compares Israel to an apartheid state,”
“So the first thing we do is, we call the secretary-general and say, ‘This is absolutely ridiculous. You have to pull it,’” she said. “The secretary general immediately pulled the report. And then the director [of ESCWA] has now resigned.”
P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas has announced he will award Rima Khalaf, the Jordanian official who resigned as head of ESCWA, with the premier Palestinian medal.
Last week three Arab envoys met with Guterres to protest what P.A. ambassador Riyad Mansour called “bullying tactics and intimidation” leading to the pulling of the ESCWA report.
“It is our collective responsibility to do everything we can to defend the U.N. and what it stands for,” the Associated Press quoted Mansour as telling reporters after a meeting which he described as “not a pleasant experience” for any of those involved.