During a luncheon with U.N. Security Council ambassadors at the White House last week, President Donald Trump described the state of U.S. contributions to the United Nations as there being “much work” for the ambassadors to achieve, and pushed for reform. He described the budget of the international organization as “unfair.” The Trump administration submitted a budget proposal to Congress on March 16, 2017 for the period of Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018, totaling $1.15 trillion. The budget proposal includes a 28 percent cut in State Department funds, including slashing a third of U.S. diplomatic funding and aid totaling about $19 billion. The cut also includes about $1 billion in funding for U.N. peacekeeping efforts and a significant reduction in the funding of international organizations. The U.S. spends about $10 billion annually on the U.N., including paying its 22 percent share in the organization’s $5.4 billion budget, the funding of international peacekeeping forces, programs to combat hunger, programs to shelter displaced people and aid to disaster-stricken regions.
The reduction in funds for the United Nations was denounced by U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric. In a statement on May 24, Dujarric said, “The figures presented would simply make it impossible for the U.N. to continue all of its essential work advancing peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance.” The United Nations continues to enjoy the right to maintain its programs and policies, regardless of contributions to its budget and development programs. Regardless of the willingness of other countries such as China and Germany to continue funding, U.S. Ambassador and former Republican governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley rushed to her office to assert her authority through the use of threats and sanctions, and to present the United States’ firm position toward its potential adversaries. Perhaps most importantly to us, the new American U.N. representative is an outspoken critic of Arab issues, especially the Palestinian cause, but eagerly defends Israel’s aggression before the international organization. She stood firmly against the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the U.N. mission to Libya, and stood in favor of the appointment of Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, as vice president of the General Assembly.
She was rewarded by Israel for her “gifts” with an invitation to visit. She made the trip quickly on June 7-9, 2017, in what was described as being the same kind of private religious tour that President Trump made in May, so as not to appear to be endorsing Israel’s sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem. As usual, the Israelis invested in this visit politically, religiously and culturally. The Times of Israel wrote in its coverage of the visit, “Fifty years to the day after Israeli paratroopers took control of the Western Wall in 1967’s Six Day War, an emotional Haley stood in silence with her hands on the stones in the women’s section at the 2,000-year-old wall. ‘My heart is full, and my life will change after the visit,’ she wrote. ‘It was a blessing to experience a holy place with spiritual people full of love. May God bless whoever comes to the Western Wall.’”
But we say, May God keep Palestine and its people steadfast in the face of colonial oppression and the intrigues of Nikki Haley.