The White House and Congress are considering slashing U.S. funding to the United Nations in light of its most recent effort to declare the Jewish state's fighting forces a chief violator of children's rights, according to multiple conversations with U.S. officials.
The U.N. is working to add the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, to a list of entities such as terror groups that are responsible for inhumane acts against children.
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The move would be just the latest anti-Israel salvo by the U.N., which caused controversy late last year when, with the backing of the Obama administration, it moved to condemn Israel for building homes for Jewish people in Jerusalem.
The latest action against Israel would add the IDF to the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflicts, which would designate the Jewish state's fighting forces as one of the worst offenders of children's human rights in the world. Other groups and entities on the list include terrorist entities and forces that kill children en masse.
The move has prompted outrage in the White House and on Capitol Hill, where multiple U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon that they will no longer stand by as the U.N. singles out Israel for criticism. The effort to counter what they described as the U.N.'s anti-Israel bias is likely to include cutting a large portion of U.S. funding to the organization.
One senior White House official familiar with the Trump administration's thinking on the matter told the Free Beacon that the president and his senior-most advisers are sick of seeing Israel treated as a pariah by the U.N.
"The Israeli Defense Forces are among the most humane, professional armed forces on the planet," said the official, who was not authorized to speak on record. "Israel has been aggressively refining its protocols to minimize civilian casualties—so much so that after the 2014 conflict in Gaza the United States sent a delegation to study their best practices."
The White House official signaled that the Trump administration would pursue a vastly different approach to the U.N. than its predecessor.
The Obama administration came under criticism from the pro-Israel community on numerous occasions for failing to defend Israel adequately in the face of international criticism. This culminated in a flurry of anger late last year when the Obama administration, in one of its final official acts, permitted the U.N. to officially chastise Israel in a break with decades of U.S. policy.
"In a region where the use of civilians, including children, as human shields is routine, singling out Israel for condemnation is, in a word, ridiculous," the White House official said. "If the United Nations' Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict has nothing better to do with the United States taxpayer dollars that fund it than engage in a vendetta against our ally Israel, perhaps we should rethink that support."
Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a vocal defender of Israel, expressed disappointment in the U.N.'s latest action. He told the Free Beacon that Congress is prepared to reduce U.S. financial support for the U.N., which comprises a significant share of the organization's operational budget.
"The United States Congress is already taking a serious look at United Nations funding levels in light of a number of recent actions unfairly targeting Israel," Roskam said. "Classifying the IDF, one of the most professional and responsible military forces in the world, alongside terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram is an absurdity."
"If the U.N. goes through with this," Roskam said, "the calls for reduced funding will grow even louder."
Other sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter said that the effort to single out the IDF is part of a broader strategy by anti-Israel organizations to mainstream hatred of the Jewish state in Turtle Bay.
"It's a scam," said one senior congressional adviser who is working with multiple offices on Capitol Hill to reform the U.N. "The U.N. wants excuses for its anti-Israel diplomacy, so it facilitates anti-Israel NGOs. Then those NGOs circle back and call on the U.N. to take anti-Israel actions, which provides the excuse that the U.N. wanted. It's time for Congress to put a stop to this stupid game."