Susan Rice to make first trip to Israel

A month after her public criticism of Israeli ministers, Obama’s NSA announces she will lead a delegation to bilateral talks

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil is the Times of Israel's Washington correspondent.

US National Security Advisor Susan Rice (photo credit: AP/Craig Ruttle/File)
US National Security Advisor Susan Rice (photo credit: AP/Craig Ruttle/File)

WASHINGTON — National Security Adviser Susan Rice will visit Israel in May at the head of a US delegation to participate in top-level strategic talks with Israeli officials, the White House confirmed Wednesday evening.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that the decision to send Rice emerged “out of the very productive consultations between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama during their bilateral meeting this week.”

According to Hayden, Rice will lead the US delegation to the US-Israel Consultative Group. She will “continue strategic consultations on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues,” but Hayden did not detail the specific topics to be discussed.

The May visit will be Rice’s first visit to Israel as National Security Adviser. Rice is considered to be one of US President Barack Obama’s closest advisers on foreign policy, and Hayden said that Rice is looking forward to the trip.

Last month, she made headlines in Israel when she criticized Israeli government ministers for personally attacking Secretary of State John Kerry and his peace efforts.

Describing the attacks against Kerry as “totally unfounded and unacceptable,” Rice wrote in a series of tweets that “John Kerry’s record of support for Israel’s security and prosperity [is] rock solid.”

Although Rice’s comments were seen as particularly harsh, in her previous position, as US permanent representative to the United Nations, she defended Israel against some of its most strident critics.

In October 2012, she used strikingly similar language to condemn then-UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk over his call to boycott companies that profit from Israeli settlements. Rice described Falk’s call as “irresponsible and unacceptable” and accused Falk of being “highly biased.”

Rice added that Falk’s recommendations did “nothing to further a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and indeed poisoned the environment for peace.”

In January 2011, Rice said that she was “appalled” by a blog post written by Falk in which, she said, Falk “endorses the slurs of conspiracy theorists who allege that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were perpetrated and then covered up by the US government and media.”

“Mr. Falk’s comments are despicable and deeply offensive, and I condemn them in the strongest terms,” wrote Rice, who at the time filed a “strong protest” with the UN on behalf of the United States.

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