Kelly Craft: What are the Views of the New US Ambassador to the UN on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
By: Pamela Dimitrova/Arab America Contributing Writer
Earlier this month, Kelly Craft officially became the new US Ambassador to the United Nations, succeeding Nikki Haley, who resigned at the end of 2018. At the beginning of 2019, President Trump appointed Kelly Craft as a prospective nominee. Now as an official Ambassador, she made clear her plans to be ‘voice for freedom’ and to ‘advocate for the poor and weak’. But do these promises apply to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
This role is not new for Craft. She had been a previous member to a U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly under President George W. Bush, and until recently as U.S Ambassador to Canada. During her tenure, the relationship between Canada and the United States was strained by bitter trade negotiations, during which Mr. Trump accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “making false statements” and being “very dishonest and weak.”
The U.S.-U.N. Relationship
For the last few years, the relationship between the United Nations and the United States has been rocky. The Trump administration has taken a skeptical stance toward U.N. operations. it has pulled out of numerous agreements in which the U.N. played key roles such as the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate deal.
It has also cut funding for the U.N. Palestinian agency; pulled out of the scandal-ridden U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as a U.N. arms trade treaty; and challenged what it asserts is the anti-American and anti-Israel bias at the body.
‘Israel will know no better friend than Craft’
Even before she was officially appointed, Craft promised she would follow in the footsteps of her predecessor, Nikki Haley, regarding Israel. Haley was a strong supporter of Israel, accusing the international organization of intentionally pushing policies against Israel. She also urged the UN Security Council to devote less attention to the Arab-Israeli conflict and make Iran’s “incredibly destructive” activities a priority in the Middle East. During her time at the UN, the US also voted for the first time against an annual resolution condemning Israel’s alleged “occupation” of the Golan Heights.
Even though she hasn’t declared her official position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she indirectly confirmed her political and moral visions on it, by confirming the stance of her predecessor.
In June when the Senate Judiciary Committee took up Craft’s latest nomination, many concerns were raised regarding her lack of political experience, connections to President Trump as one of the sponsors of his 2016 campaign, and also her unclear stance about global issues such as climate change, Khashoggi’s killing, and international peace.
In responding to Democratic Senator Christopher Coons’ question on whether the president’s Middle East plan includes a two-state solution for Israel-Palestine, Craft said she had not been part of the peace process to date but that she would promote Israel normalizing itself at the U.N.
At the regularly scheduled debate in the UN Security Council this Friday, Craft expressed her support for the Jewish state: “The United States has always supported Israel in the past. The United States supports Israel today. The United States will always support Israel moving forward. Israel will have no better friend than Kelly Craft.”
The United States supports Israel today.
The United States will always support Israel moving forward.
Israel will have no better friend than Kelly Craft. pic.twitter.com/yzgXMXTX2N
— Ambassador Kelly Craft (@USAmbUN) September 20, 2019
Responding to Craft, Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon said, “The United States will have no better friend than the State of Israel. Ambassador Craft made it clear today that the US remains strongly committed to Israel and our security. With her help, together we can continue to change the culture at the United Nations.”
Because of her little political experience, Ambassador Craft is likely to have a low-key presence, but insiders say the UN should actually be worried about that. That’s because the UN Secretary-General António Guterres worked hard to establish a good relationship with Ambassador Hailey because she was a cabinet member and it was believed that she sometimes advocated for the UN in Washington. Since she left, US had ‘downgraded’ the international organizations and refused to pay many of its bills, including its share of the Peacekeeping Budget and now it’s felt that the state would continue ignoring UN policies. Richard Gowan, from the International Crisis Group, fears that since Craft is a low-key ambassador, then she wouldn’t be able to build a ‘bridge’ between the US and the UN.
One thing is clear, however, the USA continues to be a strong ally of Israel and it will continue fighting the UN policies aiming to help Palestine and would vehemently oppose punishing the international crimes of the Jewish state.