How does new US en­voy to UN stand on Is­rael?

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - ANAL­Y­SIS • By JOSH AXELROD

Heather Nauert, State Depart­ment spokes­woman and for­mer Fox News re­porter, will be re­plac­ing Nikki Ha­ley as the next am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions. With big shoes to fill, many Is­raelis won­der how Nauert will com­pare to her pre­de­ces­sor.

Though Nauert is a Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fa­vorite and a cur­rent voice for the ad­min­is­tra­tion, Ha­ley was con­sid­ered a cher­ished diplo­mat to the pro-Is­rael com­mu­nity. Those won­der­ing how she’ll weigh up will look to her time at the State Depart­ment, where Nauert speaks fre­quently about Is­rael and the Mid­dle East.

Dur­ing press brief­ings, she of­ten sticks to the script and main­tains the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s staunch pro-Is­rael stance. When asked about con­tro­ver­sial Is­raeli poli­cies or de­ci­sions, she al­most al­ways de­fers to the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment.

Ques­tioned about the pro­posed de­mo­li­tion of the West Bank Be­douin vil­lage Khan al-Ah­mar, she em­pha­sized the Is­raeli le­gal process and the de­ci­sions of its courts.

“The im­pend­ing evac­u­a­tion of the Be­douin res­i­dence in that vil­lage fol­lows a lengthy le­gal process I be­lieve that’s gone on for eight years or so, and I’d just have to re­fer you back to the Gov­ern­ment of Is­rael on that one.”

She em­braced a sim­i­lar ap­proach on the case of Lara Alqasem, an Amer­i­can stu­dent who was de­tained and de­nied en­try to Is­rael for her al­leged sup­port of BDS.

“Our em­bassy is pro­vid­ing con­sular ac­cess, as we would to all Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. We value free­dom of ex­pres­sion.” She went on to say, “Ul­ti­mately, it is up to the Gov­ern­ment of Is­rael to de­cide who it wants to let into the coun­try,” while down­play­ing Alqasem’s de­tain­ment, which was the fo­cus of the re­porter’s ques­tion.

Nauert has dis­played some of Ha­ley’s sig­na­ture fiery rhetoric when con­demn­ing Is­rael’s

adopted – let alone con­sid­ered – a res­o­lu­tion that ac­knowl­edges the re­al­ity on the ground. In June, a plu­ral­ity of mem­ber states sup­ported a US amend­ment that con­demned Ha­mas for its vi­o­lent acts of ter­ror­ism dur­ing the so-called “Great March of Re­turn.” Last week’s res­o­lu­tion built on the lan­guage and spirit of that amend­ment.

The US res­o­lu­tion served as a lit­mus test for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity on a num­ber of fronts, in­clud­ing that of an­tisemitism. At a time when the ever-present specter of an­tisemitism has, once again, be­come a deadly re­al­ity, the UN had the op­por­tu­nity to take a uni­fied stand against this ageold big­otry, as Ha­mas is one of the world’s great­est of­fend­ers of an­tisemitism: its char­ter calls for the de­struc­tion of Is­rael and for a geno­cide of the Jewish peo­ple. Ha­mas’s pur­suit of its geno­ci­dal am­bi­tions en­dan­gers civil­ians, both Is­raeli and Pales­tinian. Rather than us­ing the med­i­cal sup­plies, con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als and fi­nan­cial aid to im­prove the lives of the Pales­tini­ans un­der its con­trol in the Gaza Strip, Ha­mas di­verts these re­sources to­ward con­struct­ing

ter­ror tun­nels, launch­ing mis­siles and air­borne in­cen­di­ary de­vices, and build­ing its mil­i­tary in­fra­struc­ture for the purpose of at­tack­ing Is­rael.

Since 2001, Ha­mas has launched more than 13,000 rock­ets into Is­raeli pop­u­la­tion cen­ters; that’s nearly three rock­ets per day for 17 years. As its rock­ets fall on homes and schools in Is­rael, Ha­mas ter­ror­ists use Pales­tinian civil­ians – in­clud­ing chil­dren – as hu­man shields when car­ry­ing out at­tacks against our soldiers. In­stead of build­ing a bet­ter life for the Pales­tini­ans, Ha­mas aims to de­stroy the lives of Is­raelis.

It is clear why the United States, Is­rael, the Euro­pean Union, Aus­tralia, Canada, New Zealand and a hand­ful of other coun­tries have des­ig­nated Ha­mas a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion. The ques­tion re­mains: why have more coun­tries, and par­tic­u­larly the UN, not fol­lowed suit? It is un­for­tu­nate that the truth does not get the at­ten­tion it de­serves – or any at­ten­tion, for that mat­ter. Even though nearly 2 mil­lion Pales­tini­ans live un­der Ha­mas’s abu­sive gov­er­nance in the Gaza Strip, an area it has con­trolled since 2007’s bru­tal civil war against the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity, Is­rael alone is blamed for their sit­u­a­tion.

De­vel­op­ments lead­ing up to the vote fur­ther demon­strated that truth is of­ten stranger than fic­tion. Ha­mas leader Is­mail Haniyeh wrote a protest let­ter – which in­cluded a clear call for vi­o­lence against Is­rael – to the pres­i­dent of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the US res­o­lu­tion. A ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion plead­ing its case be­fore the UN is akin to a se­rial killer ask­ing the po­lice for as­sis­tance. And in the days lead­ing up to the vote, the PA chose to come to Ha­mas’s aid. De­spite Ha­mas throw­ing Fatah of­fi­cials off rooftops in Gaza in 2007, PA Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas still de­fended Haniyeh. Ap­par­ently, ha­tred for Is­rael is pow­er­ful enough to over­come even the most vi­o­lent in­ter­nal Pales­tinian ri­valry.

The UN res­o­lu­tion to con­demn Ha­mas was his­toric: 87 coun­tries voted in fa­vor of con­demn­ing the ter­ror­ist group, with US Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley in­stru­men­tal in help­ing form this un­prece­dented coali­tion that stood with Is­rael and against ter­ror­ism. And it was also nec­es­sary: it showed the world which coun­tries sup­port Ha­mas and which op­pose ter­ror­ism, which coun­tries make ex­cuses for an­tisemitism and which are sin­cere in their ef­forts to com­bat it. It put the or­ga­ni­za­tion on no­tice that we will not give up the fight against it at the UN.

In the end, in­stead of is­su­ing empty prom­ises to com­bat an­tisemitism, mak­ing hol­low state­ments of sup­port for the Pales­tinian peo­ple, and in­ces­santly blam­ing Is­rael, the UN could have taken the first step in rec­og­niz­ing that Ha­mas is the true threat to Is­rael and the Pales­tinian peo­ple, and fi­nally con­demned this ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The writer is Is­rael’s am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions. •



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