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November 5, 2017 10:31 am

Top US Diplomat Tells Israeli-American Group: UN Human Rights Council Must Reform, or We Will Leave It

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US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley addresses the fourth annual Israeli-American Council National Conference in Washington, DC, Nov. 4, 2017. Photo: Perry Bindelglass.

The UN Human Rights Council, infamous for its anti-Israel bias, must reform or the US will leave the body, a top American diplomat announced on Saturday night.

Addressing the fourth annual Israeli-American Council National Conference in Washington, DC, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the American-proposed changes at the UNHRC included ending “the notorious Agenda Item Seven, which is the part of the council that’s devoted exclusively to bashing Israel.”

“We only want to be part of the Human Rights Council if it is true to its name,” Haley declared.

Haley also slammed the UNHRC resolution mandating the creation of a database of companies that do business in Israeli settlements. “We need to be clear — this is a BDS blacklist, plain and simple,” she said. “The United States has been opposed to this list from the start. We have not and will not contribute any information to its creation.”

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“We are working closely with the high commissioner [of the UNHRC] to try to ensure the list is not made public,” she added. “It goes well beyond the mandate of what the Human Rights Council or any UN office should be doing. We will need to work to defeat this at all levels of government.”

America’s recent pronouncement that it would withdraw from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Haley noted, was “an easy call,” given the group’s “pattern of extremely political and one-sided decisions.”

Haley described the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal — which President Donald Trump recently decertified — as “very, very flawed.”

“One of the biggest problems with it is how the international community gets played by Iran,” she pointed out. “The deal is designed to be too big to fail. It’s designed to keep critics of the regime’s behavior quiet so as not to threaten the deal.”

“Iran is engaged in all kinds of bad behavior prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions — testing ballistic missiles, arming rebels in Yemen, supporting [Bashar] Assad’s brutality in Syria, and building up Hezbollah’s war machine in Lebanon,” Haley continued. “For too long, Iran has known that as long as it stays in technical compliance with the nuclear agreement, the Security Council and the world won’t do anything about its other lawless behavior.”

“That’s no way for us to operate,” Haley emphasized. “The president’s action has put the Iran deal back in play. It has opened a lot of eyes to the dangerous Iranian conduct the world has overlooked to preserve a deeply flawed deal. We are now pushing the world to confront the totality of the threat posed by the Iranian regime. Not just how many centrifuges it has, but how many terrorists it supports, and how many missiles it tests. It is beyond time that we did this.”

“Congress,” Haley said, “now has the opportunity to bring the debate about the Iran nuclear deal out from the fantasy world created by the Obama echo chamber, and into the real world where it belongs. This is a chance, not to abandon the deal — not yet — but to improve it. I sincerely hope Congress takes that opportunity.”

Haley also criticized the Obama administration for permitting — by abstaining from the vote – last year’s approval of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements.

“It’s no secret that the UN is a hostile place for Israel,” Haley said. “But what I saw just before I became the US ambassador was a shameful period in which the United States became a part of that hostility.”

“It was last December, almost exactly a month before my confirmation, when the United States stood by and allowed — some would say encouraged — the Security Council to pass Resolution 2334,” Haley recalled. “Resolution 2334 branded Israel as a violator of international law. It was a cowardly act; and a real low point for America at the UN.”

“To me, Resolution 2334 wasn’t about the settlements issue,” Haley explained. “The United States and Israel have long had our differences on the settlements. And that’s ok. Friends can have disagreements and still be friends. What happened with 2334 was a betrayal of our friend in the very forum that has been one of its cruelest and most hostile foes. America was far from being a friend to Israel on that day.”

“I was still governor of South Carolina, but I came away from the passage of Resolution 2334 certain of one thing: As long as I was US ambassador, such an act of betrayal would never happen again,” Haley exclaimed.

Haley said that since assuming her UN role in January, she has been “chipping away at anti-Israel culture” at the global intergovernmental institution “slowly, but surely.”

“All in all, I have to say that I am cautiously optimistic about the changes occurring in the culture at the UN,” Haley went on to say. “The Israel bashing hasn’t disappeared by any means. But it is less and less. And where it persists, the United States has used its leverage to force change.”

“I’m here to let the world know that Israel is not alone,” Haley concluded. “It has a steadfast friend and an ally in this struggle. As long as I am at my post, the United States of America will never again desert our friend in its hour of need.”

Haley was speaking at the opening plenary of the weekend-long IAC gathering at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital. Earlier in the evening, Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin greeted the crowd via video from Jerusalem.

On Sunday morning, Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, of the Likud Party, and Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli took part in a panel discussion.

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