Nikki Haley’s Exit

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As President Trump’s United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley redefined what it means to leave no daylight between the United States and Israel. In the two years of her tenure in office, she has brooked no compromise with Israel’s critics. None. AIPAC has thanked her for “consistently” standing up for Israel.

“Nikki Haley is a modern version of a Western style sheriff, defending Israel in every verbal shootout at the United Nations,” Tovah Lazaroff wrote in The Jerusalem Post. “And to make it better, she did it all in heels, with a smile, while staring down at what she referred to as the moral cesspool of a hypocritical United Nations that applauded human rights abusers and attacked democracies like Israel.”

On Haley’s watch, the United States cut its support to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that supports Palestinian refugees but has long been accused of actually perpetuating their plight. She used the U.S. veto to nix a U.N. Security Council resolution criticizing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She pulled the United States out of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has often singled out Israel for condemnation. She persuaded the U.N. secretary general to pull from the web a U.N. report accusing Israel of apartheid. And she declared that the Western Wall belongs to Israel, a sharp departure from longstanding U.S. diplomatic policy of not pronouncing on who claims what in Jerusalem. (That was followed soon after by the moving of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.)

Haley’s actions delighted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and large segments of the Jewish community, especially its right wing, because she unabashedly attacked the hypocrisy of the world body against Israel. But her actions alarmed the Israeli opposition and some on the left for their departure from traditional international relations activity and for pre-empting decisions that had been set aside for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump has said he has five potential successors in mind, and there has been much speculation about who will actually get the nod. Whoever that is will have very large shoes to fill and faces the challenge to be as credible, forceful and effective as Haley has proven herself to be.

Whether Haley made her announcement now because she didn’t want to been seen to be reacting to the outcome of the midterm elections, or because she has some financial challenges she needs to address, or because the ascent of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton has pushed her to the side, there is no question that Haley has been a rare star in this administration. She won the grudging respect of many and became a pro-Israel celebrity for even more.

We are confident that whatever she does now, she will not be gone from the political environment for long. And that’s a good thing.

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