Nikki Haley

Press Conference After Attending First UN Security Council Consultations Meeting on the  Middle East

delivered 16 February 2017, UN Headquarters, New York, NY

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Good morning. First of all, as this is the first time I have dealt with this press corps, I just want to say that I hope that we can have a lot more conversations and continue to do these types of things. But I'll ask that I will respect you if you'll respect me. So as we develop this relationship, we'll see how it goes.

So the first I want to do is talk about what we just saw in there. And the Security Council just finished its regular monthly meeting on Middle East issues. It's the first meeting like that that Iíve attended, and I have to say it was a bit strange.

The Security Council is supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security. But at our meeting on the Middle East, the discussion was not about Hizballahís illegal build-up of rockets in Lebanon. It was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists. It was not about how we defeat ISIS. It was not about how we hold Bashar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of civilians. No, instead, the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.

I am new around here, but I understand thatís how the Council has operated, month after month, for decades.

Iím here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. Iím here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the UNís anti-Israel bias. We will never repeat the terrible mistake of Resolution 2334 and allow one-sided Security Council resolutions to condemn Israel. Instead, we will push for action on the real threats we face in the Middle East.

We stand for peace. We support a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is negotiated directly between the two parties, as President Trump reiterated in his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday.1 The outrageously biased resolutions from the Security Council and the General Assembly only make peace harder to attain by discouraging one of the parties from going to the negotiating table.

Incredibly, the UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches from North Korea. There is no division devoted to the worldís number one state-sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favors. And it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us.

The double standards are breathtaking. Just a few days ago, the United States sought, unsuccessfully, to have the Security Council condemn a terrorist attack to Israel, where the terrorist opened fire on people waiting for a bus, and then stabbed others. The Security Council would not hesitate to condemn an attack like that in any other country. But not for Israel. The statement was blocked. And thatís downright shameful.

Israel exists in a region where others call for its complete destruction and in a world where anti-Semitism is on the rise. These are threats that we should discuss at the United Nations as we continue working toward a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But outside of the UN, there is some good news. Israelís place in the world is changing. Israel is building up new diplomatic relationships. More and more countries recognize how much Israel contributes to the world. They are recognizing that Israel is a beacon of stability in a troubled region, and that Israel is at the forefront of innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological discovery.

It is the UNís anti-Israel bias that is long overdue for change. The United States will not hesitate to speak out against these biases in defense of our friend and ally, Israel.

I will say that we were -- I think we saw maybe a slightly different tone in the meeting, but we will have to see how it goes forward.

Thank you.

 

And Iíll open it up for any questions you have.

Yes. [to reporter]

Question: Madam Ambassador, can I ask you about the meeting today? We heard the UN envoy say that the "two-state solution" is "the only way" to reach peace in the Middle East. Now, Iím wondering how are you going to square that, as you go forward, with what President Trump said today -- yesterday about there being other possibilities. And also, on -- on the settlements resolution, do you have anything in mind to correct that "terrible mistake," as you put that?

Ambassador Haley: Well I think, first of all, the Administration -- and the United States -- supports a two-state solution. But what we support more is peace and stability. And by bringing the two to the table to have them talk through this in a fresh way -- to say, ďOkay, weíre going to go back to the drawing board; what can we agree on?Ē -- thatís what the United States wants. We want to facilitate both the Palestinian Authority and Israelis coming together, being accountable, and moving forward for peace. And thatís what weíre going to continue to support.

[crosstalk]

Yes.

Question: Madam Ambassador, thank you. This is [intelligible] with [unintelligible] network. Ambassador, since you are a member of that Administration, many people -- Iím from Kurdistan region of Iraq and as you know Kurds are main partner of United States in fight of -- of terrorism in both Syria and Iraq. They want clarity. What is the Administrationís policy -- what does Administration want to do in Iraq and in Syria when it come to the fighting of terrorism and ISIS.

Ambassador Haley: Well I think first we want to stop the violence. Thatís the biggest thing is stop the violence, and find a way to bring some stability to the area. But youíre seeing that the Administration is starting to develop plans and actions. Itís not just about, ďWhat are the talking points on this area going to be?Ē Itís, ďWhat are the actions are we going to do to facilitate peace and stability?Ē And thatís where the focus of the Administration and the United States is going.

[crosstalk]

Yes.

Question: Madam Ambassador, do you have any plan -- do you have any plan to undo this monthly talk about the Palestinian question and the three-monthly open debate on it that is on the agenda of the Security Council?

Ambassador Haley: You know, I just put out to the members of the Security Council to help me understand, when we have so much going on in the world, why is it that every single month weíre going to sit down and have a hearing where all they do is obsess over Israel? Thatís the problem. And so what Iím saying is that we want to have constructive influence. I think whatís happening is itís now becoming counteractive to the peace process. When the UN becomes -- comes into the middle of it, and is more of a divider than a uniter, it is a cause for concern. I think everyoneís well intentioned. I think they are trying to find stability. But this obsession every month to continue to -- to go over this, instead of encouraging the Palestinians and Israelis to come together to a table, thatís where the focus should be. But we have a lot of other issues in the world that weíre trying to deal with -- whether itís ISIS, whether itís North Korea, whether itís all the instability weíre seeing in other regions, thatís where we need to focus.

One more question.

Yes.

Question: Thank you very much, Madam Ambassador. As a quick follow-up on settlements, the President asked the Israelis to hold back on settlements. Was this something that you raised during the Council meeting? Was it discussed? Was there any welcome for this? And secondly, when you arrived here one of the first things you said was that the U.S. was going "to have the backs" of its allies; you hoped the allies had the back of the United States. And for those who didnít, you were "taking names" and that there would be some kind of accountability. Are you making a list? And whoís on it?

Ambassador Haley: You want to see my list, donít you? You know, what Iíll tell you is first of all when it come to the settlements, we donít that that is the sole reason that we are not getting peace in this process. What the President has said, and that -- that we agree on, is expanding settlements at this point is not helpful. And so thatís basically what weíre saying to both sides -- is, ďOkay, letís take a pause, and at some point letís both come together willinglyĒ -- and, you know, wanting to actually see some constructive action take place. And I think thatís what youíre going to see the President try and do. And thatís what weíre going to try and do in facilitating. Weíll just, unbiased, bring them to the table and say, ďOkay, weíre going to do this.Ē What we see at the UN is itís always the focus of the Palestinian Authority, but itís never been the focus of Israel as well. And as long we have that bias at the UN it becomes very difficult for us to do that.

In terms of the "taking names," you can go back to South Carolina. Thatís exactly how I governed, which was, ďYou know, you all are in this for the greater good, and thatís what we hope. But when you tell me youíre going to do something and you donítÖ.Ē Thatís where you take names. When you see that there is someone that promises to -- to do something and they donít -- thatís where we take names. So, there is no special list in my drawer in the desk. It is more observations and trying to make sure that -- in the past, I think, the previous Administration had not been very strong when it came to international issues -- had not spoken out when something was wrong, had not necessarily really moved to be a part of the peace process.

What youíre seeing with this Administration is -- youíre going to see a lot of action. Youíre going to see a lot of participation. And, yes, we are going to take names. If we see someone that's not doing what theyíre supposed to, weíre going to call them out. Thatís why called out Russia. And, so weíll continue to do that as we see other issues come up.

[crosstalk]

Yes.

Question: Madam Ambassador, is the U.S. going to stick to its obligations in -- under Resolution 181 and 1515, which were adopted and drafted by the United States? And those resolutions called for the two-state solution and -- as a base for the peaceful solution in the Middle East.

Ambassador Haley: Understand that the United States supports the two-state resolution. Thatís never been waivered. What weíre saying is, ďOkay, letís not just talk about the old way of doing things.Ē Come to the table with all the fresh atmosphere of perspectives that we now have and say, ďOkay, what can we do, knowing all of the factors, knowing where we sit present day, and how can we move forward?Ē

Question: [unintelligible]

Ambassador Haley: And I said we support the two-state solution.

Last question.

[cross talk]

Question: Just to clarify, you -- you heard from the Secretary General yesterday, thereís "no Plan B." There is only the two-state solution as a path forward. You heard today his envoy for the Middle East peace process repeat that same message. In your view, is there a Plan B?

Ambassador Haley: I think -- Well, I think, first of all, the two-state solution is what we support. Letís -- I mean anybody that wants to say the United States doesnít support two-state solution, that would be an error. We absolutely support a two-state solution. But, we are thinking out-of-the-box as well, which is: "What does it take to bring these two sides to the table?" "What do we need have them agree on?" At the end of the day, the solution to what will bring peace in the Middle East is going to come from the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority. The United States is just there to support the process.

All right? Thank you very much. Thank you.


Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

1 To wit: "Our administration is committed to working with Israel and our common allies in the region towards greater security and stability.  That includes working toward a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.  The United States will encourage a peace and, really, a great peace deal.  We'll be working on it very, very diligently.  Very important to me also -- something we want to do.  But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement.  We'll be beside them; we'll be working with them." [emphasis added; Joint Press Conference Remarks by President Trump and PM Netanyahu, 15 February 2017]

Original Transcript of Statement (Only) Source: State.gov

Page Updated: 2/17/17

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.