Haley Fires Back at Palestinian Official Who Wanted Her Silenced: 'I Will Not Shut Up'

February 20, 2018

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley fired back at a Palestinian official who insulted her earlier this month, saying Tuesday "I will not shut up" and calling on Palestinian leadership to take the path of negotiation and compromise with Israel.

Speaking after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the U.N. Security Council and again called for Palestinian statehood, Haley directly responded to Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, who previously said Haley "needs to shut up and realize the Palestinian leadership is not the problem."

"We welcome you as the leader of the Palestinian people here today," Haley said. "But I will decline the advice I was recently given by your top negotiator, Saeb Erekat. I will not shut up. Rather, I will respectfully speak some hard truths. The Palestinian leadership has a choice to make between two different paths. There is the path of absolutist demands, hateful rhetoric, and incitement to violence. That path has led, and will continue to lead, to nothing but hardship for the Palestinian people."

"Or, there is the path of negotiation and compromise," she continued. "History has shown that path to be successful for Egypt and Jordan, including the transfer of territory. That path remains open to the Palestinian leadership, if only it is courageous enough to take it."

Haley also addressed the Palestinians' vehement opposition to the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel's capital.

"You don't have to praise it. You don't even have to accept it. But know this. That decision will not change," she said.

Haley criticized the UN's fixation on Israel, calling it "grossly biased" and saying it had "elevated the tensions and grievances" between the Israelis and Palestinians. Haley said the body should focus attention on other problems in the Middle East, such as the humanitarian crises in Yemen and Syria and the terrorist-sponsoring regime of Iran's role in the region's violence.

"These immense security and humanitarian challenges throughout the region should occupy more of our attention, rather than having us sit here month after month and use the most democratic country in the Middle East as a scapegoat for the region's problems," she said. "But here we go again."

Haley said she was sorry that Abbas electd to leave the chamber before hearing the remarks of others but said she would "address the balance of my remarks to him."

In a shot at the Obama administration, Haley said allowing UNSC Resolution 2334—which condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem—to pass was a "serious error." The United States did not use its veto as a permanent member to defeat the resolution, one of the final actions of the Obama White House's foreign policy team before the Trump administration took power.

"Perhaps its biggest flaw was that it encouraged the false notion that Israel can be pushed into a deal that undermines its vital interests," she said.

Haley said she had worked since taking her role to address the bias against Israel at the UN but said it did not mean the U.S. didn't recognize "the suffering of the Palestinian people."

"I sit here today offering the outstretched hand of the United States to the Palestinian people in the cause of peace," she said.

In January, Abbas gave a speech to the Palestinian Central Council where he leveled threats at members of the Trump administration, outlined a centuries-old conspiracy theory between Jews and Europeans to steal Palestinian land, and defended the PA's payment of money to "martyrs," the term he used for terrorists who have killed Israelis and Americans.