U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and the Trump administration are being pinned down in the trenches of the United Nations, outmaneuvered not only by smooth U.N. operators, but by Obama-era engineers.
Twice in November, the United States failed to vote with Israel against the U.N. hordes, despite the oft-repeated words of Ambassador Haley about having Israel’s back. The self-proclaimed “new sheriff in town” is finding out the hard way that failure to match action with talk is a fast-track to impotence at the U.N. Corall.
On November 16, the Trump administration failed to support Israel on a resolution about the notoriously anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council. The vote took place in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, a committee that focuses on human rights and is composed of all 193 U.N. member states. The resolution gave a pass to the annual report of the Council, a report that includes all of the body’s anti-Israel goings-on. In U.N.-eze, the General Assembly “takes note” of the report and makes no criticism of any of its activities.
The resolution was adopted by a vote of 117 in favor, 2 against, and 60 abstentions. Israel (and Belarus) voted against. The United States abstained.
Haley’s move is particularly surprising in light of the history of this resolution. The George W. Bush administration voted with Israel and against the resolution, while the Obama administration did not vote with Israel and merely abstained for the past three years. Haley is following in Obama’s footsteps.
The Israeli delegate explained to the General Assembly why Israel voted against:
A special agenda item; seven special sessions; more than 70 resolutions, much more than a third of all the geographical resolutions; a Special Rapporteur with a biased and an infinite mandate, as well as endless numbers of reports – all targeting Israel – reflect the Council’s attitude towards my country. … When it comes to Israel the Council chooses once again to trample in the political swamp and to neglect so many people around the world who need urgent assistance. … That is why Israel will vote against the adoption of the Human Rights Council’s report.
By contrast, the Trump administration’s U.N. delegate made this feeble excuse to the General Assembly for undercutting Israel:
The United States strongly objects to the Human Right Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel. … On a positive note, we wish to highlight the important actions taken by the Council, including through renewing mandates on the human rights situations in Iran, the DPRK, Syria, and the fact-finding mission on Myanmar. The Human Rights Council is in need of serious reform. … We urge all Member States to join efforts that will reform the Council. … For these reasons, the United States has abstained on this resolution.
Set aside – for an instant – that Council action on Iran, North Korea and Syria has been a tiny fraction of the amount of energy, time and resources spent demonizing Israel, and has changed nothing for millions suffering in these human rights hell-holes. The Trump administration’s rationale mirrors the Obama administration’s stance on U.N.-driven anti-Israel and anti-Jewish pursuits: the inequality of Jews is a price worth paying to advance other goals. As if human rights principles can be built on a foundation of antisemitism.
Moreover, no one at the United Nations — states or staff — believes that the Human Rights Council will undergo “serious reform.” The United States does not have the votes to carry the day for that at the General Assembly. And as of now, the United States does not have the credibility needed to prevail. Promises of being ready, willing and able to withhold significant sums of money and support from the U.N. have failed to materialize. U.N. wheeler-dealers are of the view that the Emperor has no clothes.
Everybody knows that the “reform” charade is a favorite U.N. shell game. And yet on September 19 and 20, both President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence hosted U.N. reform photo-ops that bought the U.N. time for more lethal mischief.
Then on October 24 – and absent “serious reform” – President Trump astonishingly created “United Nations Day” with this call to action: “I urge the Governors of the 50 States, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the officials of all other areas under the flag of the United States, to observe United Nations Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
A few weeks later, on November 10, the American delegate refused to join Israel and vote against a U.N. resolution on the “Syrian Golan.” The resolution contained zero criticism of Syria and demanded Israel stop “repressing” Syrians in the Golan. (That’s the place where Syrians go for Israeli medical care and protection from their genocidal president.) The vote was 154 in favor, 2 against (Israel and South Sudan), and 17 abstentions – including the United States.
Business-as-usual at the U.N. – umpteen promises by our U.N. ambassador to the contrary – notwithstanding.
In December, the budget for the multi-billion dollar U.N. enterprise will once again come to a vote. The money will include myriad Israel-bashing and anti-American pursuits across the U.N. system.
Another nice speech won’t cut it.
Anne Bayefsky, Director, Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust; President, Human Rights Voices, @AnneBayefsky