The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, arrived in Israel Wednesday for a three-day visit and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.
This is the first visit to Israel for Haley, one of the Trump administration’s most vocally pro-Israel officials and the uncontested darling of America’s pro-Israel community, since she took office in January.
She is to go to Tel Aviv, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, and take helicopter rides to Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip and the its northern border. She will also meet with Palestinian leaders.
According to a press release, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, will accompany Haley throughout the trip, but her expected visit to various sites in the Old City of Jerusalem Wednesday is billed as private, which means that no Israeli officials will accompany her there.
Last month, US President Donald Trump visited the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, both in the disputed Old City. The first US president to make such visits while in office, he too visited the sites in a private capacity and without official Israeli accompaniment.
Israel captured the Old City and other parts of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War and subsequently annexed them. The international community, including the US, has never recognized Israel’s claim to that part of the city.
In the lead-up to Trump’s Israel visit, Haley was the only senior member of the administration who took a clear stand on whether the Western Wall was part of Israel.
“I don’t know what the policy of the administration is, but I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how we’ve always seen it and that’s how we should pursue it,” she said in a May 17 interview. “We’ve always thought the Western Wall was part of Israel.”
On Tuesday, Haley threatened that the US could withdraw from the body’s Human Rights Council, unless it reforms, including by removing what she called its “relentless, pathological campaign” against Israel — a state which, she said, had a strong human rights record.
The council’s behavior “makes a mockery not of Israel, but of the Council itself,” she charged in an address to the body.
Haley has won applause from the Israeli government for pledging to stand up to what she has termed “Israel-bashing” at the United Nations.
She has condemned a Security Council resolution demanding that Israel halt the expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land as a “terrible mistake.”
That resolution was adopted in December 2016 after the Obama administration refused to use its veto to block the measure and instead abstained.