Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, started her diplomatic career as a champion for Palestinian refugees, visiting refugee camps and assuring her U.N. colleagues that she would protect the nearly $300 million in U.S. funding each year that provides schooling for half a million Palestinian children.
Today, she is championing the White House drive to sever the Palestinians most vital economic lifeline unless they participate in U.S.-mediated peace talks. The reversal reflects White House resentment over the Palestinians’ decision to put forward resolutions before the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly denouncing President Donald Trump for his Dec. 6 decision to move the U.S. Embassy to the disputed capital of Jerusalem.
Both of those resolutions passed overwhelmingly, reflecting widespread international opposition to the White House decision and personally embarrassing the president. This week, the State Department decided to put on hold more than $100 million in funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that was scheduled to be paid on the first working day of January, according to two diplomatic sources.
Haley, meanwhile, told other U.N. ambassadors that the money will not be forthcoming unless Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — who said Trump’s move on Jerusalem disqualifies the United States as neutral mediator — reverses course and comes to the peace table. She has also fumed about what she described as a “hateful” speech by the Palestinian envoy, Riyad Mansour, before the U.N. General Assembly.
The president, she said, considers the two U.N. votes a personal affront.
Haley argued internally in favor of moving ahead and conditioning humanitarian aid on the Palestinian Authority’s willingness to engage in peace talks, according to well-placed sources. She reasoned it would provide her with additional leverage in her future dealings with countries that voted in the General Assembly against the United States over Jerusalem.
Since that vote, Haley has sought to assure the more than 60 countries that didn’t vote in favor of the Palestinian resolution (eight voted alongside the United States, 35 abstained, and 21 did not vote) that they would receive special treatment from the United States. She started with an invitation to a Jan. 3 “friendship” reception at the U.S. mission to the United Nations. But Haley’s campaign to cut off all financial assistance to the Palestinians is feeding…