Columns

Haley: Arab Nations 'Really Saying That the Palestinian People Are Not a Priority'

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting Nov. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

In her final address to a regular UN Security Council briefing on the Middle East, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed the United Nations’ “obsession” with condemning Israel while adding that “given my record, some may mistakenly conclude that I am unsympathetic to the Palestinian people — nothing could be further from the truth.”

“The problems of the Middle East are numerous, and yet we spend vastly disproportionate amount of time on just one of them,” she said. “And the UN has shown itself to be hopelessly biased, as we witnessed again just two weeks ago when the General Assembly failed to condemn Hamas’s terrorist activity against Israel.”

That resolution condemned Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk” and for its military activities in Gaza including constructing tunnels “to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas.” The General Assembly took a procedural vote before voting on the resolution, and decided that a two-thirds majority would be needed to pass it.

Eighty-seven countries ultimately voted in favor of the U.S. resolution, 57 voted against and 33 abstained, which meant it failed to pass the earlier-set two-thirds threshold.

“Over the past two years, I have attempted to provide more value in this monthly meeting by using my time to speak about other pressing problems in the Middle East. I have spoken about Iran’s illegal weapons transfers and destabilizing support for terrorism throughout the region. I have spoken about the barbarism of the Assad regime in Syria. I have spoken about Hamas’s illegal and diabolical use of human shields. I have spoken about Hezbollah jeopardizing the safety of the Lebanese people and its violations of Israeli sovereignty which have come to light even more clearly in the last month. I have spoken about Iraq and Yemen, about refugees and humanitarian crises,” Haley said.

“I have done this for two reasons. I’ve done it to illustrate that most of the region’s problems have absolutely nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And I’ve done it to encourage the UN to move away from its obsession with Israel.”

The ambassador told other members of the Security Council that they’ve crafted “the path to an endless stalemate” by sending “a loud and false message to the Palestinians that they just might be able to achieve their goals by relying on the UN, rather than through direct negotiations.”

Haley emphasized that Israel “will not make a peace agreement at just any price, and it shouldn’t — no UN resolutions, anti-Semitic boycotts, or terrorist threats will ever change that.”

On the Palestinian people,” Haley said that “like the Israelis, they are a deservedly proud people — they, too, do not need to accept a peace agreement at any price.”

“Economic opportunity, health care, even electricity are all scarce in the Palestinian territories. Terrorists rule much of the territory, undermining the safety of all civilians. The Palestinian people are suffering terribly while their leadership clings to 50-year-old demands that have only become less and less realistic,” she said. “What awaits the Palestinian people with a peace agreement are the prospects of a massive improvement in the quality of their lives and far greater control over their political future.”

“…To my Arab friends, I have heard privately from many of you. You’ve said that you know a solution is urgently needed. But your governments have not been willing to talk to your constituencies about what is realistic or to the Palestinian leadership about the harm they’re doing to their very own people. By taking the easy way, you are really saying that the Palestinian people are not a priority for you. Because if they were, you would all be in a room helping bring both sides to the table.”

Haley concluded that her hope, as she’s “soon to be an outside observer who has invested so much time on this issue,” is that “we will not still be having the same conversation, the same old speeches, in years to come.”