Posts Tagged ‘Nikki Haley’

Russia calls out US ‘cynicism’ for rights council pullout

June 20, 2018


Russia on Wednesday voiced surprise at the United States’ decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, accusing Washington of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the world body.

“The US has once again brought a powerful blow to its own human rights reputation by demonstrating its disregard for the UN and its bodies,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing in Moscow.

© AFP/File | Russia accused the United States of “gross cynicism” after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced a US withdrawal from the UN human rights council

She charged the US with “stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the existence of serious human rights problems at home while at the same time trying to shape the council under its own interests”.

She also criticised the US for “imposing a specific American understanding of human rights on other countries”.

Zakharova said the withdrawal was “unexpected” for Moscow although “a precedent was already set with UNESCO”, the UN’s Paris-based cultural body that Washington left in October last year.

“The UN Human Rights Council has worked effectively without the US in the past and we hope that it will continue to do so,” she said.

Washington withdrew on Tuesday, condemning the “hypocrisy” of council members and an alleged “unrelenting bias” against Israel.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, went to Washington to announce the decision alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The announcement came after the top UN human rights official criticised Washington for separating migrant children from their parents who are seeking asylum after arrival from Mexico.



Tatyana Stanovaya, a Paris-based analyst for the Centre of Political Technologies in Moscow, said that with the crackdown on the opposition the Kremlin wanted to show it would brook no dissent under Putin’s new term.

“The Kremlin wants to draw a red line which cannot be crossed,” Stanovaya told AFP.


U.S. Plans to Withdraw From UN Human Rights Council Today

June 19, 2018
Nikki Haley has said panel wages ‘pathological’ anti-Israel campaign — U.K.’s Boris Johnson has said council is flawed but has value
Donald Trump

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The Trump administration plans to announce its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, making good on a pledge to leave a body it has long accused of hypocrisy and criticized as biased against Israel, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley plan to announce the withdrawal at the State Department in Washington at 5 p.m., the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing a decision that hadn’t yet been made public.

The 47-member council, based in Geneva and created in 2006, began its latest session on Monday with a broadside against President Donald Trump’s immigration policy by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights. He called the policy of separating children from parents crossing the southern border illegally “unconscionable.”

The U.S. withdrawal had been expected. National Security Adviser John Bolton opposed the body’s creation when he was U.S. ambassador to the UN in 2006. In a speech to the council last year, Haley called out the body for what she said was its “relentless, pathological campaign” against Israel. She has also called for ways to expel members of the council that have poor human rights records themselves.

Won’t ‘Sit Quietly’

“For our part, the United States will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights,” Haley said at the time. “In the end, no speech and no structural reforms will save the members of the Human Rights Council from themselves.”

A State Department spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, while the UN said it hadn’t received a notification that the U.S. was withdrawing.

The move comes as the Trump administration is under intense criticism from business groups, human rights organizations and lawmakers from both parties over its recently imposed decision to separate children from parents who enter the U.S. illegally.

Even some critics of the human rights council have called for continuing to push for a revamping of the body rather than quitting it.

On the opening day of the council’s current session, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson criticized the body’s perennial agenda item dedicated to Israel and the Palestinian territories, calling it “damaging to the cause of peace.” Nonetheless, he said the U.K. wasn’t “blind to the value of this council.”

The council is scheduled to discuss Israel and the Palestinian territories on July 2, according to its agenda.

— With assistance by Margaret Talev

120 countries at UN condemn Israel over Gaza violence

June 14, 2018
‘For some, attacking Israel is their favorite political sport. That’s why we are here today,’ Nikki Haley said

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday adopted by a strong majority of 120 countries an Arab-backed resolution condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and rejected a US bid to blame Hamas for the violence.

The resolution deplores Israel’s use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” against Palestinian civilians and calls for protection measures for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March. No Israelis have died.

The resolution put forward by Algeria and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries won 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.

An amendment presented by the United States condemning Hamas for “inciting violence” along the border with Gaza failed to garner the two-third majority needed for adoption.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley dismissed the resolution as “one-sided” and accused Arab countries of trying to score political points at home by seeking to condemn Israel at the United Nations.

“For some, attacking Israel is their favorite political sport.  That’s why we are here today,” Haley told the assembly.

“I wish everyone supporting this one-sided resolution would put as much energy into encouraging President Abbas to the negotiating table,” she said.

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Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border on Friday, as weeks of deadly clashes with protesters continued
Mohammed ABED (AFP)

France was among 12 EU countries that backed the resolution, but Britain abstained along with Italy, Poland and 13 other EU member-states. Russia and China voted in favor.

Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, the Solomon Islands and Togo joined the United States and Israel in voting against the resolution.

Taking the podium, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon assailed the measure as an “attempt to take away our basic right to self-defense.”

He warned ambassadors that by supporting the resolution “you are empowering Hamas.”

“The hypocrisy of the General Assembly knows no bounds as anti-Israel elements deceitfully blocked the condemnation of Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization. This was a badge of shame for the UN,” said Danon.

“Thanks to the combined efforts with our American friends and our allies from around the world, we proved today that the automatic majority against Israel in the UN is not destiny and can be changed.”

Arab countries backing the measure turned to the General Assembly after the United States used its veto in the Security Council to block the resolution on June 1.

Unlike the Security Council, resolutions adopted by the assembly are non-binding and there is no veto.

Drew Angerer (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File)Danny Danon leads Israel’s mission to the United Nations

UN chief to propose protection

The resolution tasks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with the drafting of proposals for an “international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

These could range from setting up an observer mission to a full-blown peacekeeping force, but action on any option would require backing from the Security Council, where the United States has veto power.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour dismissed the US amendments blaming Hamas as “games and gimmicks” and urged ambassadors not to be “fooled” by the US proposal.

“We are asking for a simple thing,” Mansour told the assembly. “We want our civilian population to be protected.”

Turkey’s Ambassador Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu defended the resolution, saying it was “about taking sides with international law” and showing the Palestinians that the world “does care about their suffering.”

HECTOR RETAMAL (AFP/File)Palestine’s Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad H. Mansour attends a UN Security Council on May 15, 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York

The US amendment condemning Hamas received 62 votes in favor, with 58 against and 42 abstentions. The United States sought to challenge the ruling requiring a two-thirds majority but that was defeated in a separate vote.

“We had more countries on the right side than the wrong side,” Haley said in a statement.

The General Assembly last held a similarly contentious vote on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in December, when it rejected President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.

Haley had warned at the time that Washington was “taking names” of countries that supported the resolution. That vote was 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions.

Backed by Arab countries, the Palestinians had lobbied to win as many votes as those cast in support of the Jerusalem resolution.

(Staff with AFP)

UN to vote on resolution bashing Israel, with US pushing for Hamas condemnation

June 13, 2018

The General Assembly on Wednesday will consider a measure lambasting Jewish state for Gaza deaths. Haley seeks amendment denouncing terror group’s violence and incitement

June 13, 2018

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council emergency session on Israel-Gaza conflict at United Nations headquarter on May 30, 2018 in New York City. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP)

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council emergency session on Israel-Gaza conflict at United Nations headquarter on May 30, 2018 in New York City. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP)

WASHINGTON — The United Nations General Assembly is slated to vote on a resolution Wednesday condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza, a move fiercely opposed by the United States, which is pushing for Hamas to face condemnation.

The 193 nations that make up the world body will vote on an Arab-backed measure that deplores what it calls Israel’s “excessive use of force” and calls for “protection of the Palestinian civilian population” in Gaza. It resembles a similar resolution Kuwait introduced at the Security Council earlier this month — which the US vetoed.

The text was put forward by Algeria and Turkey on behalf of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed the measure as “fundamentally imbalanced” for its failure to mention Hamas and has proposed an amendment that condemns the Palestinian terror group.

Now that the motion is being brought to the General Assembly, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, wants to counter that measure with a another that castigates the Islamist organization that rules the Gaza Strip.

“Any resolution focused on the protection of civilians in Gaza must recognize the destabilizing and reckless actions of Hamas, which endanger the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians,” Haley wrote in a letter sent to her fellow UN envoys on Tuesday.

The voting results of a UN resolution condemning President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, December 21, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Haley proposed an amendment condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the Gaza-Israel border fence, “thereby putting civilians at risk.” The proposal also would condemn the diversion of resources in Gaza to building tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to fire rockets and express “grave concern” at the destruction of the Kerem Shalom crossing point to Israel “by actors in Gaza.”

Haley said the amendment “is not controversial” and simply condemns “behavior we should all recognize as harmful to the Palestinian people.”

The letter said the amendment would be voted on before the resolution.

Diplomats expect the US amendment to fail and the Arab-backed resolution to be adopted, but it remains unclear how many votes it will garner in the face of strong US opposition.

Over the last two months, there have been intense, weekly clashes between Gazan demonstrators and the Israeli military. The protests — billed as the “March of Return” — began organically, but were eventually taken over by Hamas, which encouraged rioters to damage and break the security fence and infiltrate Israel, as well as throw petrol bombs and rocks toward the soldiers. Those conflagrations have resulted in more than 120 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire — the majority being members of terror groups.

The Arab-drafted text claims Israel used “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” against Palestinian civilians. Haley, in her letter to colleagues, said it does not pin any blame on Hamas for what transpired.

Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, center, chants slogans as he is surrounded by protesters during his visit to the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Friday, April 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

“‘Hamas’ is not mentioned even once in the text,” Haley said. “This omission should be unacceptable to all Member States, given that Hamas fired over 100 rockets at Israel last month, provoked violent uprisings, and obstructed the flow of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.”

Following another flareup at the border two weeks ago, the Gaza-based Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups launched more than 70 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, prompting dozens of retaliatory airstrikes.

Four Israelis were hurt, including a soldier who suffered moderate injuries, and projectiles caused damage to a kindergarten yard an hour before the children arrived, and to a home as a family slept in a fortified room inside.

Those actions, Haley insisted, should not be difficult for the UN to denounce.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said he “welcomed” the American amendment. The eagerness of other countries to condemn Israel and their unwillingness to condemn Hamas, he charged, was a manifestation of hypocrisy.

“It is despicable for any country to even consider to vote for a resolution condemning Israel while refusing to support the condemnation of Hamas,” Danon said. “Such behavior is hypocritical at best, and at worst amounts to openly emboldening an internationally recognized terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people.”


Europe turns away from the US — and bites the hand that feeds

June 6, 2018

President Trump’s tariff war with Europe is wrongheaded, but hardly the only issue separating “our closest allies” from America, the country too many on the continent love to hate.

Well before his threatened steel and aluminum restrictions on European countries (as well as on Canada and Mexico), Trump slaughtered some of Europe’s most sacred cows.


He withdrew from the Paris accord on greenhouse-gas emissions and broke away from the Iran deal. Europeans strongly believe the former will save the planet. (It won’t.) They also hope the latter will tame the Islamic Republic. (Again, nope.) As important, they want their continent’s economies to have access to Iranian markets.

Then Trump offended the Euros’ collective sense of decorum by moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

But on that, as on other issues, Europeans are far from united.

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăancilă visited Israel’s capital recently and her government tentatively approved moving its embassy there. For that, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called on Dăancilă to resign, accusing her of making “secret deals” with the Jews.

And Germany, once a top Israel booster, privately sided with Iohannis and against recognizing Israel’s capital. After Romania moves its embassy, Berlin fears, the Czechs, Bulgarians and others may also break ranks with the European Union.

A Washington source tells me the US ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, has advised the Germans against interfering in their neighbors’ deliberations over embassy location. Other US envoys should also advocate the move to Jerusalem.

Beyond the embassy, challenging the fictional EU “consensus” will demonstrate that some Europeans have more in common with America than with their fellow domineering continental partners.

Meanwhile, despite playing hardball in public, France and Britain (among others) are quietly attempting to bridge the gaps with America over the Iran deal.

Also, Europe’s energy giants Total and BP recently canceled signed deals with Iran — along with top shipping firm Maersk and various European insurers. They’d rather do business with America when forced to choose.

So slighted European leaders go running to the United Nations.

Last week none of the five European nations on the Security Council supported a text, proposed by America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, that would solely blame Hamas for recent deadly Gaza clashes. France and Sweden sided with Hamas in another council vote, proposed by Kuwait, to protect Gaza’s Palestinians from the evil Israelis.

Meanwhile German Chancellor Angela Merkel, long presiding over Europe’s largest economy, recently said the continent can no longer rely on America and should instead defend itself.

Well, good luck with that.

Germany is currently one of NATO’s worst deadbeat members, investing a mere 1.22 percent of its GDP in the military. That’s well below the alliance’s agreed-on 2 percent. America spends more than 3.5 percent of GDP on the military. The US is by far the most muscular NATO member, as it has been since the alliance’s inception.

Germans have grown fat under America’s military umbrella. They and other Europeans developed a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil attitude, which is increasingly untenable in a growingly hostile world.

Demanding more European funding for defense was one of Trump’s early mantras. Yet this year Germany is, at best, expected to up its military budget to 1.5 percent of its GDP. The only Europeans that contribute their required share are Greece, Estonia, Britain and Poland. The rest slouch toward Germany.

How will Europe, then, “defend itself” — let alone contribute to global security?

Will its carriers sail the Pacific, where Europeans hope to surpass America in exports to Asia, but where China threatens to dominate and limit freedom of navigation? And what if, God forbid, a future nuclear-armed Iran turns its ire on one of the continent’s capitals?

So yes, Trump’s proposed tariffs are bad news for global free trade. They’ll hit Americans first — in our pocketbooks. Also, despite it all, Europe remains an important partner and ally. Trade wars will only harm the alliance.

Yet, as many of its politicians drift further and further away from America, few in Europe can genuinely plead “friendship” as they demand exclusion from US tariffs.

Made by those who’ve grown less amicable, that argument is just poor salesmanship.

FILED UNDER         



See also:

1 in 10 German military pilots lost helicopter licenses for lack of flight time

US vetoes UN Security Council resolution denouncing violence against Palestinians

June 2, 2018

The United States vetoed on Friday a Kuwait-drafted UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israel’s use of force against Palestinian civilians, criticizing it as a “grossly one-sided view” that failed to blame Hamas for the recent violence.

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© Drew Angerer, Getty/AFP | U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks a UN Security Council meeting in May. On Friday, the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution denouncing violence against Palestinians.

Video by Laurent BERSTECHER

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2018-06-02

“The terrorist group Hamas bears primary responsibility for the awful living conditions in Gaza,” Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, said ahead of the vote.

Out of the council’s 15 members, 10 voted in favor, including France, and only the United States voted against. There were four abstentions including Britain.

A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to be adopted.

The US also submitted its own resolution blaming Hamas for the violence, but was the only country to vote in favor.

The United Kingdom, also a permanent Security Council member, abstained from both votes, saying that the proposals were unbalanced and too vague.

“We condemn Hamas, but at the same time we regret that the American text does not adequately reference Israel’s responsibilities and obligations with regards to Gaza,” said Karen Pierce, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Both Hamas, the dominant group in Gaza, and the pro-Iran Islamic Jihad have said their recent actions including shelling of Israeli territory are in response to Israel’s killing of at least 116 Palestinians since March 30 in Gaza border protests.

The votes illustrate the deep divisions that have paralysed the UN’s most powerful body for decades. Over the past 40 years, the US has vetoed all but one of the UN’s resolutions condemning Israel.


U.S. Calls Urgent UN Security Council Meeting To Deal With Palestinians Shooting Rockets and Mortars into Israel

May 30, 2018

The UN Security Council will meet in emergency session Wednesday to discuss continuing Palestinian terrorist rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.

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Palestinian militants launch a mortar — FILE photo

The extraordinary meeting has been called by the United States. It comes after Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza fired at least 70 rockets and mortar shells at Israel over the course of the day Tuesday. Both terror groups claimed joint responsibility for the attacks.

“Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement.

“The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they’re allowing to happen in Gaza.”

There were no reports of injuries or significant material damage, local government officials said. The shellings appeared to be the largest attack from the Gaza Strip since the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.



Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus is reporting from a civilian home that was hit by a rocket earlier this morning

The United States circulated a draft statement calling on the council to condemn “in the strongest terms the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants in Gaza” toward Israel, according to a copy of the text seen by AFP.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said the planned meeting was a “positive step,” but cautioned council members “must take serious action, and not make do with words.”

He further demanded the council “officially recognize Hamas as a terror group.”

“For weeks we’ve warned that the violent rioting along the Gaza border—including planting explosives along the fence and live fire at our security forces—were not a s spontaneous protest, but a violent coordinated attack against Israel,” Danon elaborated.

View image on Twitter

Danny Danon and Nikki Haley

“The dozens of rockets and mortars fired at Israel leave no doubt about the intentions of those who have incited, encouraged and went as far as paying for those ongoing riots.”

The council will hear a report from UN envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov during the meeting scheduled for 3pm (7pm GMT) Wednesday.

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U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem, Violence Add To Friction Between U.S., Allies

May 15, 2018

Washington’s allies in Europe and the Middle East criticized the U.S. for opening a new embassy in Jerusalem and called on Israel to restrain its forces

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, meeting in London on Monday, both criticized the U.S. for moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, meeting in London on Monday, both criticized the U.S. for moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. PHOTO: STEPHEN LOCK/I-IMAGES/ZUMA PRESS

Washington’s allies in Europe and the Middle East criticized the U.S. for opening a new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday and called on Israel to restrain its forces after dozens of Palestinian protesters were killed in clashes.

The episode marked the latest point of discord to emerge between the U.S. and many of its major partners after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran last week.

The Trump administration defended and celebrated its decision to move the embassy and refused to criticize Israel’s use of force, instead blaming the Palestinian group Hamas for the bloodshed.

The political and militant group helped organize the protests, which started several weeks ago to call for the right of refugees to return to what is now Israel. In the violence Monday, Gaza officials said at least 59 protesters were killed and 2,400 injured when Israeli forces opened fire.

Photos: Palestinians Mourn a Day After Gaza Protests

Israeli military said demonstrations of 35,000 Gazans were larger than other recent protests

 A Palestinian demonstrator tries to put out a fire caused by objects dropped from Israeli drones during a protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
 Palestinian protesters look up at falling tear gas cannisters near the border with Israel in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
 Palestinians collect tires to be burned during a tent city protest along the Israel-Gaza border.
 Palestinian protesters gather in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.
 Palestinians carry a man injured during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Monday.
 Palestinians run for cover from tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces.
 Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unveils a dedication plaque during the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
 Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter, and Mr. Mnuchin present the dedication plaque.
 Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second from left, his wife Sara, in red, with senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, third from left, and Ms. Trump, U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman and Mr. Mnuchin at the opening of the U.S. embassy
 Palestinian demonstrators run for cover during a protest in the southern Gaza Strip against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.
 Protesters carry a man who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel.
 A Palestinian woman sniffs a fragrance to counter the effect of tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Jabalia.
 Israeli army soldiers take position during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinians are marking Nakba Day, or Day of the Catastrophe, which marks the day after the anniversary of Israel’s founding on May 14, 1948.
 Palestinian demonstrators set up a barricade during a protest near the Israeli Qalandia checkpoint near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
 The Gaza protests are expected to reach their height on Tuesday and spread to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Palestinians have organized marches.
 Smoke rises as Israeli soldiers are seen on the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip.
 Palestinians run for cover from tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Jabalia.
Palestinian protesters look up at falling tear gas cannisters near the border with Israel in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
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Clashes Over New U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Leave Dozens Dead

Thousands of protesters were injured at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel ahead of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Israeli officials said they were defending their borders from Hamas, which is using the protests as a pretext to stage an attack into Israel. Many protesters attempted to breach the fence, using explosive devices, firebombs and flaming kites, the Israeli military said.

The strongest criticism came from the U.K. and France. Both condemned the violence and expressed their opposition to the embassy opening in statements.

“There has got to be restraint in the use of live rounds,” the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said in statement. “The U.K. position is that we don’t agree with the U.S. decision to move the embassy and we continue to believe that is playing the wrong card at the wrong time.”

France’s minister for Europe and foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, echoed the call for restraint and urged Israel to respect the Palestinian right to demonstrate peacefully.

“France disapproves of the American decision to transfer the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said in a statement issued on Monday, saying it “contravenes international law.”

The discord over the violence in Gaza was the latest sign of a widening rift between Washington and its partners in Europe, who have been frustrated by recent U.S. moves to withdraw from the joint deal with Iran and introduce trade tariffs that could hurt key European exports.

Most European officials refused to appear at the U.S. Embassy opening ceremony on Monday, attended by President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, a senior administration adviser.

However, a move by the European Union last week to issue a critical statement reasserting its view that the status of Jerusalem should be left to “final status” negotiations was blocked by several Eastern European countries, diplomats said.

The embassy relocation drew a mixed response from members of Congress, although many lawmakers from both political parties lauded the move. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) called it “long overdue.” Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) said that while he supported the move, the Trump administration also should press for a solution allowing Israelis and Palestinians to live peacefully in two states.

“The unequivocal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital comes after presidents in both parties stalled our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.). “So I truly appreciate the Trump administration for…finally moving our embassy.”

Nikki Haley


RT @USUN: On this historic day, Ambassador @dannydanon and I celebrated our US—Israel friendship and the move of our embassy to Jerusalem.

The use of deadly force against protesters drew criticism from the Capitol, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) calling it “heartbreaking.”

Arab states have widely criticized the U.S. Embassy move and on Monday condemned Israel for the violence in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations Security Council was expected to hold an emergency meeting on situation Tuesday after it was requested by Kuwait, a major U.S. partner in the Middle East.

Kuwait on Monday circulated a Security Council statement expressing “grave concern” over the violence and “outrage” at the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians and called for an independent investigation, but the U.S. blocked the statement, diplomats said. For the council to issue a statement all 15 members must unanimously agree on the text.

Most of the U.N.’s member states in the General Assembly opposed the U.S. decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The U.N. Security Council emergency meeting could allow for debate, but is unlikely to lead to action, as the U.S. hold–s veto power and could block any resolution condemning Israel or calling for an investigation.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, on Monday tweeted a picture of herself with Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon celebrating the embassy move.

UN Human Rights


Excessive use of force by – an eye for an eyelash – must end. There must be true accountability for those in military & political command who have ordered or allowed this force to be once again employed at the fence – UN rights expert: 

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “profoundly alarmed” by the escalation of violence and called for Israeli forces to “exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire.”

Palestinian representatives said at least eight children under the age of 16 were among the dead and called for an independent investigation into the violence in Gaza.

The United Nations Human Rights office called the toll “staggering” in a tweet and said “Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters.”

The White House defended Israel on Monday. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,“ said White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah. ”Israel has the right to defend itself.”

Write to Jessica Donati at and Farnaz Fassihi at

Appeared in the May 15, 2018, print edition as ‘Allies Criticize U.S. For Embassy Shift, Call for Restraint.’


Nikki Haley Addresses Hamas-Directed Palestinian Violence on the Israel Border, and The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem [Video]

May 15, 2018

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke at the UN Security Council this morning. She said the actions by Hamas-directed Palestinians on the Gaza-Israel border yesterday were tantamount to an attack on a sovereign state and a member of the UN. She said the dedication of the new U.S. embassy at Jerusalem was the recognition of a reality, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Haley said, “Recognizing this reality makes peace more likely not less.” She condemned the lawless actions of Hamas using women and children as human shields during an effort to incite violence….

How Obama’s Lawyers Gave John Bolton the Keys to Armageddon

April 19, 2018

Obama’s lawyers never thought Trump would be the next White House incumbent, or that it would be Bolton whispering in his ear. If they had, maybe they wouldn’t have corroded the U.S.’s commitment to following international law before launching military strikes abroad

In this Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 file photo, Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill
John Bolton, now U.S. National Security Adviser and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Feb. 24, 2017AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

There has been too little discussion in the U.S. about the legality, under international law, of President Donald Trump’s decision to fire Tomahawk and 19 JASSM cruise missiles at suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities last weekend.

Only the UK offered a clear and explicit legal justification for its actions – even if most international lawyers think it is “significantly flawed.” The U.S. and France appeared to argue that Syria’s violations of international law, through the repeated use of chemical weapons, were so self-evidently wrong that it ipso facto gave these countries a right to use force against Syria.

In the opinion of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, the U.S. had to hold “the Syrian regime responsible for its atrocities against humanity.”

Lawyers will search in vain for references to the UN Charter in the arguments advanced by the US, the UK, and France in justifying their strikes in Syria.

As expected, the UK invoked the doctrine of “humanitarian intervention” under customary international law, as it did in 2013, before Parliament blocked military action. Customary international law is habitually invoked by international lawyers when they know that they do not have a legal argument to make under the UN Charter.

Although one of the purposes of the UN is to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Charter does not give states a right to use force to ensure respect for these rights without authorisation from the UN Security Council.

The lack of reference to the UN Charter is not that surprising. Government lawyers in the U.S., the UK, and France, have been repeatedly side-lining the Charter to justify their military interventions since the end of the Cold War.

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017.
U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017. Robert S. Price/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout

The danger this time around is that these states may have corroded the UN Charter beyond repair. Only Russia and China referred to the UN Charter in their categorical condemnations of the strikes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Russia Today that the strikes were not only carried out “in violation of the UN Charter and principles of international law.” He also warned that the current escalation of the Syrian crisis was having “a devastating impact on the whole system of international relations.”

For international lawyers this is a very sorry state of affairs. It is as though references to the UN Charter have become the refuge of tyrants.

The view that the UN Charter and whole system of international relations is under threat from repeated unlawful uses of force is not new. Thomas Franck made the argument over 40 years ago. He repeated it after the Iraq fiasco. But I think his argument may have been precipitate.

For example, lawyers argued ad nauseamabout the legality of the invasion of Iraq, as the hundreds of pages of the UK’s Chilcot Inquiry attest. Then government lawyers acted as handmaidens to power when they fixed law around policy and made grandiose claims in the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (2002) in the lead up to the invasion.

Syrian children and adults receive treatment for a suspected chemical attack at a makeshift clinic in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus late on February 25, 2018.
Syrian children and adults receive treatment for a suspected chemical attack at a makeshift clinic in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus late on February 25, 2018.HAMZA AL-AJWEH/AFP

But they did not try to rewrite the rules. That came later.

After the invasion of Iraq, and in view of all of the criticisms levelled at the U.S. and the UK, in respect of the legal advicethat was advanced justifying the invasion, it was felt that a more concerted effort was needed to make international law more relevant for the modern world.

Three events had contributed to the view that international law needed reform. The first was the Rwandan genocide. The second was Srebrenica. The third was 9/11.

With regard to the massive human rights violations in Rwanda and Bosnia it was felt that the UN had done too little to stop these atrocities. After the 9/11 attacks, it was thought that politicians were not taking international lawyers seriously when they insisted that a proper reading of the UN Charter required states to take a hit before they could take action in self-defense.

The UN Charter had been drafted for a very different world, when the domestic jurisdiction clause in Article 2 (7) of the Charter was added to prevent criticisms of colonialism and the racial policies of South Africa and the U.S.

But times have changed, and today the UN Charter is being used as a shield by authoritarian regimes to commit massive human rights violations against their own citizens, and by those states that provide sanctuary to violent nonstate actors committed to carrying out terrorist attacks against the West.

Things got out of hand in Iraq when dubious claims were advanced in order to justify regime change in that country – a flagrant violation of international law.

U.S. Army soldiers tour St. Elijah's Monastery on Forward Operating Base Marez, Mosul, Iraq, November 7, 2008.
U.S. Army soldiers tour St. Elijah’s Monastery on Forward Operating Base Marez, Mosul, Iraq, November 7, 2008.AP

Ironically, the lesson from Iraq was not “never again.” Rather, government lawyers set about establishing new rules that would allow states to take into account the threats from weapons of mass destruction in their assessments of when they could take measures in self-defense.

The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2001) had also made new arguments about when states could take measures in response to massive human rights violations when the states responsible for these violations were unable or unwilling to put a stop to them – although the Commission did not go as far as British lawyers in calling for action without authorisation from the Security Council when they justified the NATO intervention in Kosovo.

“Flexibility” became the buzz word. The aim was to make law “policy relevant.”

But the danger was that by making law policy relevant, the lawyers may have inadvertently made themselves irrelevant, as politicians – many of whom are also lawyers – began replacing legal advisers as the ultimate arbiters of what is lawful, and not only what is wise or just or strategic.

Consider President Trump’s pick for National Security Advisor: uber-hawk John Bolton – who is also an attorney who has written widely on international law and international affairs. Bolton has repeatedly argued that Iran and North Korea pose imminent threats to global security that necessitate the preventive use of military force.

In the case of Iran, Bolton’s argument is based on the same rationale that led the U.S. to strike Syria’s chemical weapons facilities. In his article in The New York Times, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,” published in 2015, Bolton called on the U.S. to render inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations, the Arak heavy-water production facility, and the uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan in a preemptive strike. He wrote that an attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, just set it back a few years.

UNGA 2015
UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon addresses the 70th session of the general assembly. September 28, 2015AP

He did not mention the UN Charter or offer a legal rationale to support his argument, but he did cite as “precedents,” Israel’s preventive strike on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in 1981, and Israel’s preventive strike on Bashar Assad’s “top-secret” nuclear reactor in 2007.

All the U.S. has done in Trump’s recent missile strike is to replace the target. Instead of striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, it struck Syria’s chemical weapons facilities.

The message to the Ayatollahs could not be clearer: the strikes on Syria are a dress rehearsal for future strikes on Iran.

In other words, the latest strikes on Syria were not about the appalling human rights violations in that country, whatever British Prime Minister Teresa May said in Parliament: it was a rap on the knuckles that sent a warning to Iran and North Korea (and also in May’s case to Russia in response to the attempt to kill former KGB agent Sergei Skripal with a deadly nerve agent in Salisbury).

Even more concerning, perhaps, was Bolton’s justification for an imminent strike on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, when he cited the same legal authority that Bush administration lawyers had cited to justify the invasion of Iraq. In an article he wrote earlier this year for The Wall Street Journal, Bolton cited the nineteenth century Caroline “case” that most people will have never heard of (outside the community of international lawyers).

Again, Bolton made no reference to the UN Charter.

The failure of Bolton to mention the UN Charter and his decision to cite the same legal authority that justified the invasion of Iraq, one of the most disastrous foreign policy blunders of the twenty-first century, should be a cause of concern. How did it come to this?

During the Obama administration lawyers came up with increasingly strained readings of the UN Charter by drafting their own rules to provide “authoritative” guidance for when states could employ force in preemptive self-defence. The development of new technologies such as weaponised UAVs or ‘drones’ was one reason they felt new rules were necessary.

A picture downloaded from the US Air Force website showing a B2 Stealth bomber at a base in Missouri in May 2012.AFP

It was thought new rules developed by those states that were leading the development of these advanced weapons systems, including unmanned fighter aircraft, would give them a head start over their rivals and, in time, provide a global legal standard.

Controversially, the lawyers that drafted these rules decided to revisit and resurrect the Bush doctrine even though it had been widely criticized in the UN Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change in 2004.

Although they admitted that mistakes had been made in Iraq, they did not take the UN’s criticisms seriously. They still believed that the legal rationale behind the Bush doctrine was solid.

And this was a view that was held by both Bush and Obama administration lawyers. As John Bellinger III, the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council at the White House (2001-2005), and the Legal Adviser to the State Department (2005-2009), wrotein The New York Times in 2010, there was going to be “more continuity than change” in the Obama administration.

Government lawyers in both the Bush and Obama administration continued to press for employing new language that would redefine the meaning of an imminent threat in a way that did not focus on the temporality of an incipient or incoming attack but reflected the wider circumstances of the threat.

The threats were never defined, but were understood to include threats from nonstate actors, from states with weapons of mass destruction, and from cyber-attacks. It was argued that an imminent threat of these sorts would provide a plausible legal argument for states to take military action without authorization from the Security Council and without having to suffer an armed attack – as the language of Article 51 of the Charter appeared to suggest.

In other words, never mind the UN Charter. Come what may the U.S. and the UK could strike first so long as the threat of an attack was “imminent.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands former President Barack Obama during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.
U.S. President Trump, left, with former President Obama at the inauguration in Washington in January. Visceral as opposed to rational approaches to the peace process.Carlos Barria / Reuters

The authors of these “rules” did not consult lawyers who disagreed with them. They did not, heaven forbid, consult Russia or China. Nor did they consult the nations of Africa or Asia that almost always oppose the claims of the U.S., the UK, and France to act as the moral wardens of the international liberal order.

In 2017, the U.S. and the UK were joined by Australia in calling for a new definition of an imminent threat, when George Brandis, the Attorney General, announced that Australia would take action in self-defense in response to imminent threats of attack.

While Australia and the UK have been careful to condition their definition of an imminent threat to credible and concrete information of an imminent attack, it is not clear whether this view is shared by Bolton who, judging from his writings, would appear to be willing to employ force against threatsthat are more remote.

The intention to draft new guidelines was noble. Greater clarity about rules is a good thing. But the strategy may have backfired, as the proliferation of guidelines and rules has sowed confusion.

We now have a situation where the permanent members of the Security Council can no longer agree on the basic rules of international law within the Council’s core field of activity concerning the maintenance of international peace and security.

The danger is not when lawyers argue about law or even when the lawyers are ignored by politicians; at least there is a standard by which these politicians can be judged, and perhaps even held to account, when the dust has settled. The danger is when nobody can agree on what the law is.

Perhaps the lawyers back in the Obama days did not want to be left out of the decision-making process. They may have thought it would be safer to have a lawyer present in the Situation Room with the President, the National Security Advisor, and the Chiefs of Staff. Perhaps they thought they were just doing what good lawyers always do, which is to please their clients.

Of course they could never have imagined in the “halcyon days” of President Obama that one day Donald Trump would become their client and their commander in chief. Nor could they have imagined that John Bolton would be ensconced in the West Wing whispering in his ear.

Victor Kattan is Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and an Associate Fellow at NUS Law. Twitter: @VictorKattan