U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has expanded her defense of the Trump administration’s historic and controversial move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American Embassy there.
Diplomatic backlash continued over the weekend from Wednesday’s announcement, with multiple Middle Eastern countries, including U.S. allies, denouncing the move. Fresh protests broke out across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, Mrs. Haley firmly argued that the White House’s decision was a matter of “courage” a long time in the making.
“For 22 years, you have had presidents and the American people ask for the embassy to be moved, and no president — not Clinton, not Bush, not Obama — actually had the courage to make that move and listen to the will of the American people,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The announcement overturned decades of U.S. policy that sought to avoid directly confronting ancient tribal and religious anger among Muslims, Christians and Jews regarding the religious status of Jerusalem.
Since the news broke, Palestinian leaders have said the president’s move casts doubt on the long-standing U.S. role as impartial mediator in the Middle East “peace process.” They also have argued that east Jerusalem, which was annexed from Jordan by Israel in 1967, should be part of their capital if a successful two-state peace agreement is ever forged.
On Friday, Mrs. Haley defended the decision during an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting called specifically to address the plan to relocate the U.S. Embassy.
Speaking on Sunday, the ambassador acknowledged the fierce regional and global backlash. “We knew that was going to happen,” she said, “but courage does cause that.”
She added that the relocation would “move the ball forward for the peace process” by shaking up the status quo.
CNN host Jake Tapper, questioning the administration’s decision on Sunday, said moving the U.S. Embassy would simply “remove something from the [negotiating] table that could have been used to force the Israelis to concede something — or force the Palestinians to concede something.”
Mrs. Haley shot back that “waiting [to make the move] didn’t help us.” She then batted aside fears that the move could strengthen extremists in the region.
“For those who want to say this is a bad idea,” she said, “I will tell you, ask us five and 10 years from now if you still think it’s a bad idea, because I really do think this is going to move the ball in the peace process.”
In an appearance on another Sunday news program, Mrs. Haley again addressed North Korea’s continued pursuit of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Last month, the rogue regime successfully tested an ICBM and bragged that Pyongyang had the capability to launch a nuclear strike as far as Washington.
Speaking to “Fox News Sunday” Mrs. Haley warned that North Korea will be “utterly destroyed” if it threatens the U.S. or American allies again.
“North Korea has pushed the envelope to an extreme level,” she said. “The United States isn’t going to put up with it.”
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