Samantha Power to Haaretz Conference: Continued Settlement Growth Raises Questions About Israel’s Long-term Objectives

U.S. ambassador to the UN tells HaaretzQ that delegitimizing Israel delegitimizes the UN, where 'Israel hasn't always been treated fairly.'

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Samantha Power at HaaretzQ conference in New York. December 12, 2015.
Samantha Power at HaaretzQ conference in New York. December 12, 2015. Credit: Erica Gannett for IRL Productions

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told the HaaretzQ conference in New York on Sunday that "continued settlement growth raises questions about Israel’s long-term objectives," and urged both Israelis and Palestinians to renew peace efforts.

"We are under no illusion that achieving peace is easy - it takes tough choices by both sides," Power said, adding that "we have not seen sufficient commitment from either side to create conditions for peace."

Power says the U.S. will always stay Israel's partner, and noted U.S. efforts against attempts to delegitimize Israel at the UN, a place where "Israel hasn't always been treated fairly."

Power said the bias against Israel at the UN persists, and blasted what she called the "absurdity" of Israel being the only country with a standing item on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council - "not Syria, which gasses its citizens."

"Delegitimizing Israel delegitimizes the UN," Power said, adding that the U.S. worked to reduce anti-Israel decisions at the council by half.

Israel fights for the right to be treated like any other country at the UN, the ambassador said, also voicing criticism of the "surge" of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attitudes in her native Ireland.

In line with the conference's agenda, Power posed a number of hypothetical questions: How would dissolving the PA promote an independent Palestinian state? What do we say to those in the international community who are frustrated by the lack of two-state solution? What is the explanation for settlement building in areas that will be part of the future Palestinian state? What answers does Israel have for its well-wishers at UN, and what concrete policies that advance a two-state solution?

Power said that the U.S. "will always" continue working for a two-state solution, opposing any efforts at the UN that undermine such a solution. In this regard, Power added that she is "still awed by the brave and unpopular decisions often made by Yitzhak Rabin." U.S. President Obama also referenced Rabin in his video address to the conference.

In her opening remarks to the conference, Power praised Haaretz and New Israel Fund's leadership in organizing the HaaretzQ conference.

"Haaretz has long understood strengthening Israeli democracy is part of its mission," Power said, lauding Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken and Editor-in-chief Aluf Benn for sticking to Haaretz's core principles. Her sentiment echoed the comments made by both Obama and Israel's President Rivlin in their speeches.

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