Commentary Magazine

Nikki Haley: A Diplomat who Delivers

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Nikki Haley’s diplomatic career is no longer nascent, but her support for the Jewish state, while no longer surprising, is still one of the most reassuring features of the Trump administration.

Today, 14 members of the Security Council voted for an Egyptian-sponsored resolution regarding Jerusalem’s status. Nikki Haley, speaking for the United States, vetoed that resolution. She explained declaratively and unhesitatingly: “We do it with no joy, but we do it with no reluctance. The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us.” And then the zinger: “It should be an embarrassment for the rest of the Security Council.”

Speaking directly to those who would accuse the United States of being unconcerned with the plight of the Palestinians, she noted that the U.S. funded nearly 30 percent of UNRWA’s budget last year. Uninterested in the soft subtlety once expected of female diplomats, Haley minced no words. “I’ll be blunt,” she promised. “When the American people see a group of countries whose total contributions to the Palestinian people is less than 1 percent of UNRWA’s budget, when they see these countries accuse the United States of being insufficiently committed to peace, the American people lose their patience.”

As they should.

Haley, too, seems to have run out of patience. “What we witnessed here today in the Security Council is an insult,” she said. “It won’t be forgotten.”

She took the time to reiterate some of the finer details of Trump’s Jerusalem announcement. His speech—which had served as a departure from the isolationist America First rhetoric that had dominated the campaign—portrayed a president who is willing to go out on a limb for our allies, and who understands that an internationally engaged America is a stronger America. If Haley’s fingerprints were not all over the text of the speech itself, her ideas and beliefs have certainly influenced the administration’s international policy.

Indeed, Trump’s Jerusalem speech was filled with an uncharacteristic level of nuance and sophistication. Abandoning his usual flair for the dramatic, he explained that his administration’s acknowledgment of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.” He went on to reiterate his commitment to fostering a long-term solution, noting that “this decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.” In a speech that was clearly favorable to Israel, he made sure to throw a bone to the peace-process posse, and to the Palestinians: “We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders,” the President said. “Those questions,” he insisted, “are up to the parties involved.”

Haley repeated many of those salient details today. She chastised the international body for their history of bias against the Jewish state, and noted that “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 is refreshing to see a President and a U.N. ambassador who understand this, and if Israel truly had a partner for peace, this frame of mind would offer a prime opportunity to truly re-engage in peace efforts. But as Abba Eban observed years ago, “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

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