CAPITOL HILL —
President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations condemned the world body’s recent resolution on Israeli settlements, praised NATO as necessary to contain Russia, and pledged to reassert American leadership to confront conflicts and challenges around the world.
“The world wants to see a strong America,” said South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley at her confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“That’s what they were used to. That has faded, and it hit the ultimate low with [United Nations Security Council] Resolution 2334,” Haley added. “Last month’s passage of Resolution 2334 was a terrible mistake, making a peace agreement with the Israelis and the Palestinians even harder to achieve.”
Passed December 23, the resolution asserts that Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory have no legal validity and must cease. The United States abstained from the vote, angering Israel as well as prominent Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Provoking nods from senators of both parties, Haley said the United Nations is in need of reform to make it a more effective and efficient global instrument, adding the organization “could benefit from a fresh set of eyes.” And she said the organization would be one of many arenas in which the U.S. leadership is reborn under the Trump administration.
“When America fails to lead, the world becomes a dangerous place,” the Republican governor said. “And when the world becomes more dangerous, the American people become more vulnerable.”
Responding to questions from senators, the governor appeared to diverge from Donald Trump on key foreign policy matters. Haley said she is a strong believer in the NATO alliance and that Russia’s annexation of Crimea must not stand. She indicated she is open to further U.S. sanctions against Moscow.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire wondered if Haley’s U.N. job at the would be complicated by Trump’s unpredictable use of social media.
“How will you avoid the conflict between your efforts at the U.N. and the Security Council and the president-elect’s tweets?” Shaheen asked.
“I look forward to communicating to him how I feel,” Haley responded, adding she anticipates that Trump will listen to his national security team “and hopefully we can get him to see it [global issues] the way we see it.”
Haley is of Indian descent, but acknowledged she is no expert on world affairs. Still, she said her experience as governor will serve her well as U.N. ambassador.
“International diplomacy is a new area for me,” she said. “I don’t claim that I know everything or that leadership at the U.N. is the same as leading South Carolina. But diplomacy itself is not new to me. In fact, I would suggest there is nothing more important to a governor’s success than her ability to unite those with different backgrounds, viewpoints, and objectives behind a common purpose.”
Even as she was speaking, Israel reacted positively to Haley’s testimony.
"We thank Ambassador-designate Haley, a true friend of Israel, for her unequivocal support and her clear statement regarding the U.N.'s discrimination against Israel,” said Israeli U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon in a statement. “We look forward to working together with her to undo the damage done by the shameful Security Council resolution, and to lead towards a new era at the U.N., which includes real reforms that will put an end to the biased obsession with Israel."