WATCH: Samantha Power Tries to Walk Back Anti-Israel Position on Jerusalem

C-SPAN

Samantha Power, nominated by President Joe Biden to led the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), testified Tuesday at her confirmation hearing that she did not think the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem was illegitimate and illegally occupied.

Power’s position is a direct contradiction of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, an anti-Israel resolution that she and the Obama administration allowed to pass by abstaining from a veto in December 2016.

As Breitbart News noted earlier this week, Power, who was then U.N. Ambassador played a key role in the vote on 2334:

Traditionally, the U.S. had vetoed such resolutions. But on his way out the door, President Barack Obama — who had long sought to create distance between the U.S. and Israel, and to pressure Israel into concessions to the Palestinians — allowed anti-Israel forces to prevail.

In her speech explaining the administration’s vote, Power claimed that the administration was following established U.S. policy against Israeli settlements in the territories won during the 1967 war. But the text of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 went beyond U.S. policy, condemning the Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem.

President-elect Trump opposed the Obama administration’s actions. Once in office, he went on to reaffirm the legitimacy of Israel’s presence in the Old City, and moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, defying the U.S. foreign policy establishment.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Power directly whether she agreed with Resolution 2334. Power attempted to dodge the question, claiming that she had worked to establish Yom Kippur as a UN holiday, among other supposedly pro-Israel actions. Cruz asked for a direct answer:

Sen. Cruz: With respect, Ambassador Power, the time is limited.

Power: Right.

Sen. Cruz: And so if you could just answer the question I asked, do you agree with Resolution 2334? I recognize you may well have done other things that were positive concerning Israel. I’m focused on this action at the United Nations.

Power: I just would like to get on the record that under my leadership, we secured Yom Kippur as a U.N. holiday. We convened the first ever General Assembly condemning anti-Semitism in the same chamber as the “Zionism is racism resolution” was passed decades before, and we integrated Israel in a way that had never been done before — chairing committees, being able to actually be part of groups from which they had been traditionally excluded. I don’t think there is a record that looks as substantial when it comes to integrating Israel. On the resolution itself. It is a resolution in keeping with President Obama’s desire to encourage the parties to avoid unilateral steps, including terrorism, incitement to violence, and the building of settlements. Those dimensions of the resolution — I think if you read my explanation of vote at the time, the problem with the resolution and the reason President Obama decided to abstain, was by and large, the venue because the U.N. has been so biased, because there 18 General Assembly resolutions —

Sen. Cruz: Let’s get to a little bit more granularity. Do you believe the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem is illegitimate and illegally occupied territory?

Power: Um, I do not.

Sen. Cruz: So do you disagree with the substance of Resolution 2334? Because that’s what it says.

Power: Senator, President Obama’s desire was to encourage the parties to avoid unilateral steps, that is the essence of of that resolution. And I think the reason that he made the judgment to instruct me to abstain.

Sen. Cruz: So encouraging the party to parties to avoid unilateral steps, Resolution 2334 was a unilateral step. Israel had no say in it. It was a step taken by the enemies of Israel to condemn Israel.

Power: The — again, the the desire that animated me in my time at the U.N. was to fight bias and to preserve space for a two-state solution.

Power, evidently flummoxed by the question, presented the U.S. decision to abstain from Resolution 2334 as if the Obama administration would have liked to support the measure, but merely objected to the anti-Israel bias at the “venue.” She did not volunteer any objection to the substance of the resolution.

The U.S. had traditionally vetoed such resolutions. In her speech at the time explaining the Obama administration’s shift, Power complained: “The total settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem now exceeds 590,000.”

The term “East Jerusalem” includes the territory across the 1949 armistice line, including the Old City of Jerusalem, which had been home to Jews for centuries, but was occupied by Jordan during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Power’s speech therefore endorsed the view that the Jewish presence in the Old City under Israeli sovereignty was illegitimate and illegal.

Jordan destroyed much of the Jewish Quarter, whose residents were expelled. Jews were prohibited from visiting the Jewish Quarter and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem until Israel gained control of the city in the 1967 war, fighting in self-defense.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also questioned Power over her support for military intervention in Libya under her “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, which left the country in shambles and vulnerable to control by terrorists, including the so-called Islamic State.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new novel, Joubert Park, tells the story of a Jewish family in South Africa at the dawn of the apartheid era. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, recounts the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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