WASHINGTON – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the crowd at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington late on Monday that she hopes to attend the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in May.
"Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel," Haley said, adding that "this was not created by the location of an embassy. America did not make Jerusalem Israel's capital. What President Trump did, to his great credit, was recognize a reality that American presidents had denied for too long."
Haley addressed Palestine Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat, who in February told her to “shut up” after she criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "Some of you might have seen that the top Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, recently had some advice for me. He told me to shut up. Mr. Erekat, I will always be respectful, but I will never shut up," Haley said, to cheers of "Nikki! Nikki!" from the crowd.
Haley began her speech at AIPAC by saying: "When I come to AIPAC, I am with friends. In the United Nations, we sometimes don't have many friends." She then noted that Israel was the only country in the world to vote with the United States at the UN earlier this year against Cuba.
Haley spoke about "outdated customs" in international diplomacy, and said that she is determined to question them. She added that "standing up for your friends is critical."
She specifically attacked UNESCO, the UN's culture and education agency, for its decisions on Jerusalem and Hebron, and said that those decisions encouraged the administration to withdraw from the agency.
"In the real world, Israel is a strong country with a strong military," she said. "But at the UN, it's a different story. Israel does get bullied there. It gets bullied because the countries that don't like Israel get away with it. That just doesn't sit well with me."
Haley criticized the Obama administration for abstaining in the 2016 UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements, calling it "a shameful day" for the United States, adding that "on my watch, that would never happen again.
"Some people accuse us of favoritism towards Israel,” she said. “There's nothing wrong with showing favoritism towards an ally, that's what being an ally is all about. But in all that we're doing, our approach on Israel is tied to one major idea - the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country."
The ambassador discussed traveling to Guatemala and Honduras, two of the few countries that voted with the United States against a resolution denouncing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "I thanked them for their vote," she said, adding that the Trump administration wants to make the UN voting pattern a part of how the United States decides on its foreign aid priorities.
"It cannot be the case that the UN spends half its time attacking one country. We will not accept it any longer," Haley said.
Throughout her speech, Haley received standing ovations and shouts of "we love you" from the crowd. "Reasonable negotiated approaches can prevail when all sides recognize reality," Haley said to conclude the speech.
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