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Antonio Guterres, Nikki Haley and the Turning of the Tide for Israel at the UN

Sara McCleary

Finally, some positive changes for Israel at the United Nations.

For the first time in at least a decade, it appears that the UN is finally being led by a Secretary-General who is unafraid to publicly support Israel.

In a recent interview with Israel Public Radio, Antonio Guterres said of the Temple Mount, currently home to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, that, “It’s as clear as the sun that the Temple, which was demolished by the Romans, is a Jewish temple.”

He added, “No one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today.”

The statement signals a shift from the leadership of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who conceded only in the final days of his position that Israel had been unfairly and disproportionately targeted by UN resolutions, reports, and committees.

The new Secretary-General also spoke out during a recent trip to Cairo about the need for peace between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. “There is no alternative solution for the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis, other than the solution of establishing two states, and we should do all that can be done to maintain this,” he said. Though Guterres has maintained that he would not be the one to initiate a Middle East peace process, he would be happy to assist in the process.

While Ban evidently did little to quell the anti-Israel leanings of the UN, Guterres’ words in his first months on the job show promise for a better future.

Another welcome step in eliminating the anti-Israel bias running through the UN was the appointment of Nikki Haley as the new United States envoy. During her senate confirmation hearings, Haley asserted that she would not “abstain when the UN seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel.”

Haley has already worked on behalf of Israel, helping to delay the publication of a database of companies that conduct business with Israel in settlements in Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. She also blocked the appointment of a Palestinian diplomat to a role as an envoy, saying in a statement, “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”

Her statement concluded, “Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”

Like Haley and the United States, Canada also continues to vote against anti-Israel motions at the UN. Furthermore, given Trudeau’s concerted effort to earn a seat on the UN Security Council, it’s actually noteworthy that he would maintain support for Israel, as the stance puts Canada in opposition to almost all the other members of the Council, making the bid for a seat that much tougher.

Here’s hoping the move away from such strong anti-Israel bias will continue. Because, while Guterres speaks out against it more than his predecessor, much of the rest of the UN still supports motions such as January’s Resolution 2334, which has been widely described as one of the harshest anti-Israel resolutions the UN has ever passed. Hopefully, the leadership being shown on this front will encourage changes in policy among other nations, and Israel will finally be treated fairly in the international community.

Sara McCleary has written extensively on a wide range of topics while working as a news reporter and freelancer. She has also completed a master’s degree in history, and further graduate work in interdisciplinary humanities.