The Record Shows Ambassador Nikki Haley Is Obsessed With 'Israel' 


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on as Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley ­announces that the United States is withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC, June 19, 2018. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August/September 2018, pp. 18-19

United Nations Report

By Ian Williams

IN THE PAST, there have been some outstandingly annoying U.S. permanent representatives at the U.N., but Nikki Haley is egregious even in such a crowded field. Even the infamous “temporary” permanent representative John Bolton knew where the rest of the world was, although most of us would disagree with him about what the U.S. should be doing to it.
Perhaps Haley’s personal nadir was when she introduced a Security Council resolution condemning Hamas, which could not even get a seconder, while vetoing a resolution from all the other members demanding that Israel stop shooting unarmed protesters on the Gaza border.
For the world’s alleged solo-superpower to fail to gain even a seconder would be seen as a failure by most observers, but in the Brave New World of Trumpian diplomacy losing friends and gaining enemies internationally only reinforces Know-Nothing enthusiasm. Her attempt to defend the U.S.’s illegitimate move of its embassy to Jerusalem was equally unappreciated.
With Nikki Haley’s enthusiastic support, the U.S. has withdrawn from UNESCO, UNRWA, and now, the U.N. Human Rights Council—all on behalf of Israel, or rather, the diehard Likudnik Israel boosters in the U.S. Significantly, her continuing main objections to U.N. bodies are predicated on their supposed bias against Israel, but the record shows fairly clearly that Ambassador Haley is, in her own way, every bit as much obsessed with Israel as the vilified majority of the U.N.
Ironically, of course, while the U.S. panders to AIPAC & Co by quitting U.N. organs, Israel tries ever more desperately to get deeper into the organization. In a belated concession to reality, Israel withdrew from this year’s contested election for a West European and Other Group (WEOG) seat for the U.N. Security Council. We can presume some heavy moral blackmail was attempted, but failed to persuade one of the other two successful candidates, Belgium and Germany, to stand down to allow Israel to take an uncontested seat. 
While the regional groups determine their candidates, if there is a contested election, they must then win the support of two thirds of the General Assembly in an open election, and there was no way whatsoever that Israel would get that. Richard Grenell, recently sworn in as the U.S. ambassador to Germany, claimed earlier this year that the United States had brokered a deal in the 1990s with countries in WEOG to allow Israel to run uncontested for a seat.
Grenell, who came to the U.N. as U.S. spokesman with John Bolton, tweeted on March 14. “Israel has waited 19 years! The U.S. must demand that Europe keep its word.” Nobody else seems to remember any such a deal, which would go entirely against the group’s usual practice.
One hesitates to question the integrity of a conservative ideologue who served George W. Bush and John Bolton so faithfully during the amnesiac days of the Iraq invasion, but the WEOG group has traditionally been almost the only group on the Security Council to hold contested elections. Its members had to be browbeaten into allowing Israel in as a full member after some years in which it was an anomalous associate member that could not even run for a Council Seat.
Indeed, as she withdrew the U.S. from the Human Rights Council, Nikki Haley berated just such practices which do indeed put unsuitable candidates in office on key U.N. bodies.
Ironically one of the genuine problems with the U.N., which the U.S. occasionally and expediently invokes, is the whole system of rotas and uncontested elections for committees and councils, which results in such anomalies as Saudi Arabia on the Human Rights Council—and Israel as the Chair of the General Assembly’s Legal Committee.
And, of course, there is the much-reviled Item 7, the majority’s insistence that there be an agenda item specifically for Israel and the Occupied Territories. The U.S. and Israel have lobbied and nagged so much over this that even countries that deplore Israel’s behavior have joined in with recent Secretary Generals to say that this is “unfair” to Israel.
One suspects that these clucks of disapproval have more to do with trying to keep the U.S. on the Council than any real indignation. In the scale of fairness, it is clear that 50 years of occupation is far more “unfair” than an annual agenda item mentioning what Israel does. In his first public address to a Jewish group, Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the World Jewish Congress in April 2017: “As secretary general of the United Nations I consider that the State of Israel needs to be treated as any other state.” Indeed, and one would hope that any other state that behaved like Israel would be condemned —but would not, perhaps, benefit from a perpetual guarantee of a U.S. veto.
When the Human Rights Council was established it was the product of years of negotiations between democratic countries and the non-aligned, who had justifiable anxiety that they would get more than their fair share of attention from the body. And to be fair, many of them were tyrannies and kleptocracies that do need a great deal of attention. Abuse of human rights was often camouflaged with appeals to anti-colonialism and the sacredness of sovereignty that are so often invoked by leaders who want the untrammeled right to abuse their own citizens. In the background, the human rights NGO’s and concerned democracies strove to allay suspicions and, of course, to get the U.S. on board.
They exacted as many concessions as they could: for example, every country now has an automatic periodical review of its human rights record, doing away with partisan votes. The negotiators went as far as they could to mandate real elections so that the usual suspects would not be rotated onto the Council, but, alas in vain. It has since reverted to the same pattern of backscratching and logrolling as so many other U.N. bodies.
Bolton and Bush refused to join the Council, although opinions are divided whether this was on principle, or because it was widely suspected that after the Iraq War, the U.S. was likely to lose an election. Instead, when President Barack Obama decided to return to the Council, New Zealand, until then a declared candidate was strong-armed into standing down to allow the U.S. to coast home in just the sort of uncontested election that now allows recidivist rights violators to take their places in it.
In her chidings, Haley almost singlehandedly destroyed what little credibility she had left from her uncritical defense of Israel by her blinkered choice. While her attacks on Venezuela—and even Cuba—could be justified by those regimes’ violations of civil liberties, there are times when silence is almost deafening. Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Burundi, not to mention China, are also on the Council but seemed to escape strictures despite their easily comparable Human Rights practices.
If Haley were really concerned about human rights, as opposed to the right of the Israeli and American governments to remain unchallenged in their violations of human rights, she might have expressed concern that Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, a highly effective High Commissioner for Human Rights is leaving. But that would be a real stretch, since he is leaving because of the opposition of the Trump administration to his impartiality, which has included criticizing the U.S. as well, we should note, as other countries across the spectrum.
Finally, in April, John Bolton showed that he could harbor a grudge—and sometimes justifiably so. He was an assistant to James Baker when the latter was the U.N. representative for Western Sahara, and he clearly remembers that Morocco ruined Baker’s diplomatic record by cocking a snook at the U.N. and Baker when it effectively tore up the resolutions and agreements.
Morocco gets from France the same protection that Israel does from the U.S., which is why its much-condemned occupation has lasted almost as long. It raises a classic U.N. dilemma. There is no particular will or interest on the part of member states to intervene to achieve the mandated result—a plebiscite of the Western Saharan population, so it is easier to pay out $50 million a year for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) peacekeeping force to freeze the status quo than to do anything about it.
Seemingly at Bolton’s say-so, the U.S. delegation called a halt and said that it would only agree to a six-month extension of the MINURSO mandate until October. The resolution when it came also stripped out some of the unfair criticism of Polisario   that France and Morocco had been slipping in the text.
There are many imponderables, but Bolton’s clear impatience with Morocco, the Trump administration’s determination to cut back on U.N. spending and a six-month deadline, might produce some results, although one would hesitate to predict quite what. But typically, the U.S. delegation annoyed Russia, China and Ethiopia, that had historically inclined to Polisario by simple lack of courtesy. They failed to consult with them about the six month reduction in the mandate. More than ever, American diplomacy becomes an oxymoron.

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