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November 14, 2019 3:18 pm

Jerusalem Embassy Move, Exit From Iran Deal Fueled Defiance Within Trump Cabinet, Nikki Haley Writes

avatar by Ira Stoll

Opinion

Former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. Photo: Reuters / Mike Segar.

The Trump administration was internally divided over three key Israel-related policy decisions — moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, leaving the Iran nuclear deal and cutting funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, writes in a new book.

The book, With All Due Respect: Defending America With Grit and Grace, was published this week and immediately drew headlines for Haley’s account of how Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, tried to recruit her to resist the president.

The book says that Middle East policy issues were prominent among those on which Tillerson and Kelly were trying to undercut the president. “Their idea of ‘saving the country’ was staying in the Iran Nuclear Deal… And keeping the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv,” Haley writes. “These were major policy decisions in which they disagreed with the president.”

“At the critical National Security Council meeting with the president on the Jerusalem embassy decision, myself, Vice President Pence, and Ambassador David Friedman spoke out in favor of the move. Everyone else either opposed it or expressed strong reservations. The president made the decision,” Haley writes.

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On the Iran deal, she writes that “there was so much support for the deal in President Trump’s cabinet — not to mention virtually unanimous support among the foreign-policy establishment — that the easy thing to do would have been to stay in the deal.”

Haley writes that halting funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, was another issue on which she clashed with Kelly and Tillerson.

Haley notes that UNRWA “promotes the so-called right of return, that is, the alleged right of the ever-growing number of Palestinian refugees to go back to the territory that is now Israel. This is a practical impossibility that is tantamount to the destruction of Israel as the world’s only Jewish state.”

She also faults the agency for having “used textbooks that preach violence and hatred toward Jews,” and for allowing Hamas terrorists to build tunnels under UNRWA schools. She describes it in the book as “a bloated and corrupt organization that fails the Palestinian people and fails the cause of peace.”

Throughout the book, Haley draws a parallel between her own experience as an Indian-American growing up in South Carolina and Israel’s experience being targeted at the United Nations. She recounts Israel’s ambassador at the UN, Danny Danon, telling her about being denounced at the Security Council while America abstained at the end of the Obama administration. “All I could think was how that feeling was all too familiar to me. I know what it feels like to be different, humiliated, and ostracized for being who you are,” she writes.

“I stood up for Israel because it is a great ally of the United States and because it gets treated so badly at the UN,” she explains.

“The culture of anti-Israel bias at the UN makes peace less likely. It sends the false message to the Palestinians that they can achieve their goals by relying on the UN rather than direct negotiations with Israel. And it sends the accurate message to the Israelis that they can never trust the UN,” she points out, calling this all “the path to an endless stalemate.”

In addition to the foreign policy substance and the insights into the Trump administration’s internal divides, the book offers some background about Haley as a person. She writes about being disqualified from a pageant as a four-year-old child because she didn’t fit into the organizers’ categories of white or black. She reports that her own mother, a legal immigrant, and a “Trump supporter from the beginning,” told her she had made a mistake by endorsing Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential candidacy. And she writes about how, at her doctor’s suggestion, she saw a therapist “once or twice a week for several months” for post-traumatic stress after a racist killed nine worshipers at a Charleston, S.C., church while Haley was governor of the state.

Haley, who stepped down as ambassador at the end of 2018, comes off in the book as an ally of Trump. “I agreed with the president,” she writes on the book’s first page. “President Trump and I understood each other,” she writes a few pages later. In other places, as in her account of the president’s reaction to the racist rally at Charlottesville, Va., she leaves some distance: “Moral clarity was essential, and the president’s words were not providing that. You have to stop acknowledging the haters, I told the president.” All in all, it leaves Haley well positioned for a bright political future.

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