“It’s a new day for Israel at the UN,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told delegates at the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
In front of a crowd of some 600 Jewish activists and leaders from 90 different countries, Haley emphasized that the US will not remain silent when Israel is attacked at the UN.
“Silence is not my thing anyway,” she said, “but that’s especially true when it comes to standing up for America’s friends. And we have no better friend in the Middle East than Israel.”
Last month, Israel announced it would reduce its annual membership payment to the United Nations by $2 million following recent “anti-Israel” votes in the organization’s bodies.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the decision was taken following votes critical of Israel at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, and condemned the “obsessive discrimination against Israel on the part of the United Nations and its agencies.”
Israel is the only country in the world that is the subject of a permanent agenda item at the HRC, a fact that former US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power also took issue with in a speech similar to Haley’s in December 2015. Power blasted the “absurdity” that Israel, “not Syria, which gasses its citizens,” was singled out at the UNHRC.
In her Tuesday speech, Haley urged UN member states to accept the US view that Iran’s influence in the region deserves the attention wrongly directed at Israel.
“The truth is that Iran is the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism. The truth is that Iran is the number one source of instability in the Middle East,” she said.
On Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told WJC delegates that he too would stand up against anti-Israel bias at the international organization, vowing to stand “on the front lines in the fight against anti-Semitism.”
Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.