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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley’s Strong Pro-Israel Legacy

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference.

On Oct. 9, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that she will be stepping down from her position at the end of this year. Amb. Haley has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jewish state during her two-year tenure in Turtle Bay. At the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference, Haley declared, “The days of Israel-bashing [at the U.N.] are over.” Indeed, undemocratic regimes, previously undeterred from spreading anti-Israel propaganda under the U.N.’s imprimatur, have faced steadfast U.S. opposition. From calling out these countries and blocking anti-Israel resolutions, to withdrawing from agencies that fail to advance American interests and are steeped in anti-Israel bias, Amb. Haley leaves a strong legacy of promoting U.S. values and standing by America’s ally Israel. But despite Amb. Haley’s significant efforts in New York, the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. still has a great deal of work to do.

Below are just a few examples of U.S. leadership at the United Nations over the past two years.

Defending America’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Amb. Haley proudly defended the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. embassy there. She vetoed an anti-American, anti-Israeli Security Council resolution condemning the decision and worked hard to build opposition against a similar resolution in the General Assembly.

“Today, for the simple act of deciding where to put our embassy, the United States was forced to defend its sovereignty. The record will reflect that we did so proudly. Today, for acknowledging a basic truth about the capital city of Israel, we are accused of harming peace. The record will reflect that we reject that outrageous claim,” Amb. Haley said in December 2017, after vetoing the Security Council resolution on Jerusalem.

Fighting for Human Rights

Since its inception in 2006, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has demonstrated a uniquely hostile bias against Israel. The U.N. body has long targeted Israel with caustic, systematic, politically motivated assaults on its legitimacy. Israel is the only country in the world on the permanent agenda of the council—Agenda Item 7—ensuring that the Jewish state will be criticized at every gathering while real human rights violators are ignored. Last year, Amb. Haley put forward a series of reforms to help rectify the council’s anti-Israel bias and force it to focus more attention on the myriad of real human rights abuses around the world.

When the council refused to reform, the administration, under Amb. Haley’s leadership, announced on June 19 its decision to withdraw from the council.

“There is the matter of the chronic bias against Israel [at the UNHRC],” Amb. Haley said in announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the council. “Last year, the United States made it clear that we would not accept the continued existence of Agenda Item 7, which singles out Israel in a way that no other country is singled out. Earlier this year, as it has in previous years, the Human Rights Council passed five resolutions against Israel – more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran and Syria combined.”

“America has a proud legacy as a champion of human rights, a proud legacy as the world’s largest provider of humanitarian aid, and a proud legacy of liberating oppressed people and defeating tyranny throughout the world,” Haley added. “That is why we are withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, an organization that is not worthy of its name.”

Condemning Hamas

In June 2018, Amb. Haley offered an amendment to an anti-Israel U.N. General Assembly resolution to condemn Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel, using civilians as human shields and inciting violence on the Gaza border. The unusually balanced amendment garnered a plurality of the vote—62 in favor, 58 against and 42 abstentions—although it ultimately failed on procedural grounds.

“The common practice of turning a blind eye to the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias is changing,” Amb. Haley said of the amendment. “Today, a plurality of 62 countries voted in favor of the U.S.-led effort to address Hamas’ responsibility for the disastrous conditions in Gaza. We had more countries on the right side than the wrong side. By their votes, those countries recognized that peace will only be achieved when realities are recognized, including Israel’s legitimate security interests, and the need to end Hamas’ terrorism.”

Refocusing U.N. Efforts

During an April 2017 debate on the Middle East—just a few months after taking office—Amb. Haley called out the U.N. Security Council for disproportionately focusing on Israel while ignoring far more pressing issues, like the regional havoc being wrought by Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah.

“Every month, this Security Council convenes a meeting on the Middle East… Regrettably, these monthly meetings routinely turn into Israel-bashing sessions. That’s the way the Security Council has operated for years. It’s a formula that is absurdly biased against one country. It’s a formula that is painfully narrow in its description of the conflicts in the region. And it’s a formula that does nothing to help find solutions,” said Amb. Haley in her remarks during the Security Council debate.

And, indeed, her efforts in this respect have at least partially paid off.

As Amb. Haley stated at the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference: “We will not tolerate a situation that a world body of 198 countries can spend half their time attacking one country: Israel. What used to be a monthly Israel-bashing session now at least has more balance. But we’re never gonna put up with bullying.”

Opposing Bias at UNESCO

Like the UNHRC, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has abused its mission. Specifically, it has targeted the Jewish state by passing ahistorical, anti-Israel resolutions.  

In May 2017, the United States voted against a UNESCO resolution that disavowed Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. In July 2017, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee declared the ancient city of Hebron, including the 2000-year-old Tomb of the Patriarchs, to be a Palestinian site; the decision failed to even mention any Jewish connection to the holy site, which is believed to be the burial site of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs.

As a result of this and many other outrageous decisions, the United States withdrew from the U.N. agency in October 2017.

“The purpose of UNESCO is a good one. Unfortunately, its extreme politicization has become a chronic embarrassment. The Tomb of the Patriarchs decision was just the latest in a long line of foolish actions, which includes keeping Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad on a UNESCO human rights committee even after his murderous crackdown on peaceful protestors. Just as we said in 1984 when President Reagan withdrew from UNESCO, U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense,” Amb. Haley said in announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the body.

Challenging UNRWA

On Aug. 31, the administration announced a cut in U.S. funding to UNRWA—the U.N. agency that provides assistance to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. UNRWA’s inefficiency, resistance to reform and misguided definition of refugees have helped protract, not solve, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement announcing the decision, which Amb. Haley supported, “the fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation.”


As a fierce advocate of the United States and staunch supporter of America’s ally Israel, Amb. Haley has effectively used her time at the United Nations to promote U.S. interests and combat the organization’s anti-Israel bias. While she has undoubtedly made major strides at the United Nations, there is still more work to be done. The next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. must continue to vigorously promote U.S. interests at the United Nations and work to prevent the international body from being used to unfairly target the Jewish state.

Amb. Haley put it best when she said at the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference, “this is really not about favoritism. In all that we're doing, whether it's the embassy decision or UNESCO, or what we're doing with UNRWA – don't even get me started on that one – our approach on Israel is tied together by one major idea, the idea that runs through all of it is the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country.”

Type: Near-East-Report Near East Report