The US ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power testified on the Hill on April 2, and conservatives’ reports have emphasized her statement that it is not in the U.S. interest to defund UN organizations that accept Palestine as a state, despite a new US law calling for that action. Power said the Palestinians should get a waiver on that law.
“In the event that the Palestinians seek and obtain membership in a U.N. agency, the last thing that we want to do is to give them a double win,” she said. “And it would be a double win for them to secure a win in an agency on the one hand, and then the exclusion of the United States from that very agency, leaving the agency at the mercy of leadership from Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela – the countries that tend to fill the space when we depart.”
Later during the hearing, Power again made the case for a waiver.
“The American people and the United States are so much better off when the United States is in good standing within these organizations, defending our interests, fighting for our friends, and not surrendering the playing field to those that would like nothing more than for the United States not to be in these organizations.”
But other comments Power made were sharply critical of the Palestinian Authority; she said she has a monthly meeting with the Israelis to look out at the sea of international bodies, and threats. A friend sent another transcript of her comments, from the one hour mark of the House hearing above, in responding to Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who is the chair of the Democratic National Committee):
On the Palestinian question, I just would underscore that we will oppose attempts at upgrades in status anywhere. We are in very close touch now, we have a monthly meeting with the Israelis where we look out at the sea of international organizations and U.N. entities, including treaty bodies and treaties and so forth, and coordinate with them, and also try to understand whether they’re prioritizing in particular ways sort of– on the lines of what you’re suggesting.
The ICC is of course something that we have been absolutely adamant about. Secretary Kerry has made it very, very clear to the Palestinians, as has the President. I mean, this is something that really poses a profound threat to Israel. It is not a unilateral action that will be anything other than devastating to the peace process, which is again where all of our efforts should be placed right now. Before the peace negotiations started, between the two parties, restarted, with Secretary Kerry’s and the president’s leadership, we were fighting on every front, I mean, for sure, contesting unilateral efforts on every front, and that is what we would do in any event, because we don’t think that this is a productive approach, we don’t think there are shortcuts, and we know that this can be an effort to delegitimate Israel, at the same time it’s an effort to upgrade Palestine’s status.
I think my point on the waiver and the funding issue [to UN agencies that Palestine joins] is that the American people and the United States are so much better off when the United States is in good standing within these organizations, defending our interests, fighting for our friends, and not surrendering the playing field to those that would like nothing more than for the US not to be in these organizations. We’re not punishing the Palestinians if we cut off funding to these agencies, we’re punishing US interests. And that is why, again, we need to deter precisely the moves … The spirit behind the legislation is to deter Palestinian action, that is what we do all the time and that is what we will continue to do, but we cannot surrender the vast range of US interests in the process.