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December 19 2017

Ambassador Haley's Bang-up Speech Yesterday at the U.N.

by Charlotte Hays

There is genuine bipartisan debate over whether President Trump did the right thing in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at this time.

But one thing is certain: The United States is no longer leading from behind:

Thank you, Mr. President. In this meeting, I will not use Council’s time to address where a sovereign nation might decide to put its embassy, and why we have every right to do so. I will address a more appropriate and urgent concern.

With those words, Ambassador Nikki Haley opened an excellent speech yesterday at the United Nations, where on behalf of the U.S. Haley vetoed a resolution put forward by Egypt restating the U.N. Security Council's position rejecting Israel's claim to Jerusalem.

The resolution didn't mention the U.S. by name but was clearly in response to President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital--a move long promised by U.S. presidents, who just never seem to have gotten around to it.

Whatever one thinks of Trump's action on Jerusalem, it is impossible not to be impressed by the confidence and concern for moral actions on the international stage projected by Haley yesterday. 

The vote in the U.N., not surprisingly, was 14 to 1 in favor--ours was the one and Haley's confident and well-reasoned speech accompanied our veto. Even if you have to save it for your lunch hour and commute home, it is worth reading the text (via Redstate) of what Haley said:

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of Resolution 2334. On that day, in this Council, in December 2016, the United States elected to abstain, allowing the measure to pass. Now it’s one year and a new administration later. Given the chance to vote again on Resolution 2334, I can say with complete confidence that the United States would vote “no.” We would exercise our veto power. The reasons why are very relevant to the cause of peace in the Middle East.

On the surface, Resolution 2334 described Israeli settlements as impediments to peace. Reasonable people can disagree about that, and in fact, over the years the United States has expressed criticism of Israeli settlement policies many times.

But in truth, it was Resolution 2334 itself that was an impediment to peace. This Security Council put the negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians further out of reach by injecting itself, yet again, in between the two parties to the conflict. By misplacing the blame for the failure of peace efforts squarely on the Israeli settlements, the resolution gave a pass to Palestinian leaders who for many years rejected one peace proposal after another. It also gave them encouragement to avoid negotiations in the future. It refused to acknowledge the legacy of failed negotiations unrelated to settlements. And the Council passed judgment on issues that must be decided in direct negotiations between the parties.

If the United Nations’ history in the peace efforts proves anything, it is that talking in New York cannot take the place of face-to-face negotiations between the regional parties. It only sets back the cause of peace, not advance it.

As if to make this very point, Resolution 2334 demanded a halt to all Israeli settlement activity in East Jerusalem – even in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This is something that no responsible person or country would ever expect Israel would do. And in this way, Resolution 2334 did what President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem as the capital of Israel did not do: It prejudged issues that should be left in final status negotiations.

Given the chance today, the United States would veto Resolution 2334 for another reason. It gave new life to an ugly creation of the Human Rights Council: the database of companies operating in Jewish communities. This is an effort to create a blacklist, plain and simple. It is yet another obstacle to a negotiated peace. It is a stain on America’s conscience that we gave the so-called BDS movement momentum by allowing the passage of Resolution 2334.

To the United Nations’ shame, this has been a disproportionately hostile place for the Middle East’s most enduring democracy.

The United States refuses to accept the double standard that says we are not impartial when we stand by the will of the American people by moving our U.S. embassy, but somehow the United Nations is a neutral party when it consistently singles out Israel for condemnation.

For decades, Israel has withstood wave after wave of bias in the UN and its agencies. The United States has often stood beside Israel. We did not on December 23, 2016. We will not make that mistake again.

This week marks the one year anniversary of a significant setback for Middle East peace. But the United States has an undiminished commitment to helping bring about final status negotiations that will lead to lasting peace.

Our hand remains extended to both parties. We call on all countries that share this commitment to learn the hard lessons of the past and work to bring Israel and the Palestinian people in good faith to the peace table.
Thank you, Mr. President. In this meeting, I will not use Council’s time to address where a sovereign nation might decide to put its embassy, and why we have every right to do so. I will address a more appropriate and urgent concern.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of Resolution 2334. On that day, in this Council, in December 2016, the United States elected to abstain, allowing the measure to pass. Now it’s one year and a new administration later. Given the chance to vote again on Resolution 2334, I can say with complete confidence that the United States would vote “no.” We would exercise our veto power. The reasons why are very relevant to the cause of peace in the Middle East.

On the surface, Resolution 2334 described Israeli settlements as impediments to peace. Reasonable people can disagree about that, and in fact, over the years the United States has expressed criticism of Israeli settlement policies many times.

But in truth, it was Resolution 2334 itself that was an impediment to peace. This Security Council put the negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians further out of reach by injecting itself, yet again, in between the two parties to the conflict. By misplacing the blame for the failure of peace efforts squarely on the Israeli settlements, the resolution gave a pass to Palestinian leaders who for many years rejected one peace proposal after another. It also gave them encouragement to avoid negotiations in the future. It refused to acknowledge the legacy of failed negotiations unrelated to settlements. And the Council passed judgment on issues that must be decided in direct negotiations between the parties.

If the United Nations’ history in the peace efforts proves anything, it is that talking in New York cannot take the place of face-to-face negotiations between the regional parties. It only sets back the cause of peace, not advance it.

As if to make this very point, Resolution 2334 demanded a halt to all Israeli settlement activity in East Jerusalem – even in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This is something that no responsible person or country would ever expect Israel would do. And in this way, Resolution 2334 did what President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem as the capital of Israel did not do: It prejudged issues that should be left in final status negotiations.

Given the chance today, the United States would veto Resolution 2334 for another reason. It gave new life to an ugly creation of the Human Rights Council: the database of companies operating in Jewish communities. This is an effort to create a blacklist, plain and simple. It is yet another obstacle to a negotiated peace. It is a stain on America’s conscience that we gave the so-called BDS movement momentum by allowing the passage of Resolution 2334.

To the United Nations’ shame, this has been a disproportionately hostile place for the Middle East’s most enduring democracy.

The United States refuses to accept the double standard that says we are not impartial when we stand by the will of the American people by moving our U.S. embassy, but somehow the United Nations is a neutral party when it consistently singles out Israel for condemnation.

For decades, Israel has withstood wave after wave of bias in the UN and its agencies. The United States has often stood beside Israel. We did not on December 23, 2016. We will not make that mistake again.

This week marks the one year anniversary of a significant setback for Middle East peace. But the United States has an undiminished commitment to helping bring about final status negotiations that will lead to lasting peace.

Our hand remains extended to both parties. We call on all countries that share this commitment to learn the hard lessons of the past and work to bring Israel and the Palestinian people in good faith to the peace table.

Thank you, very much.

No, thank you, Ambassador.

As I said, whatever you believe about Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem, this is an amazingly self-assured speech that makes a moral argument.

The New York Times news report on the vote said that the veto "punctuated" the United States' increasing isolation in the world. A counter view is that this highlights the U.S.'s courage to lead.

The Times also had this gem:

Already there are signs that Mr. Trump's decision has eroded the ability of the United States to act as an impartial arbiter in the peace process.

So in this view, it is "talking in New York" that matters.

When the "peace process" is as bloody and protracted as this one has been, maybe it is some for something new. After all, peace, not jobs for diplomats, should be the goal.

It was also good to see a United States willing to take a stand rather than cringingly accept a resolution that, despite the intentional failure to name us, is a slap in the face to the nation that pays the lion's share of the U.N.'s costs.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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