Ambassador Haley Blasts UN Forces in Lebanon
WASHINGTON – Speaking at a Capitol Hill National Security forum on Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed the UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for not directing sufficient attention to Hezbollah. “The UN troops there are not looking at Hezbollah or bringing any attention to that. They need to talk about if they see missiles or tunnels, if they see something like that happening,” Haley said while being interviewed by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Operating in southern Lebanon since 1978, the number of UNIFIL forces has steadily increased over the years, most notably after the 2006 2nd Lebanon war. Despite those increases, Hezbollah still deploys militants in the sensitive border region, violating UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
The US envoy also lambasted the Lebanese government — a US ally in the region — for not adequately countering Hezbollah. “The government of Lebanon is either looking the other way or feeling pressured to stay quiet,” she noted. Haley emphasized that Israel’s northern border with Lebanon remains the country’s most dangerous threat. “To have conflict break out between Lebanon and Israel, the destabilization that would do would be horrible,” she added. The Israeli military estimates that Hezbollah possesses approximately 150,000 rockets, including long-range Iranian made missiles that could target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israeli defense officials also worry about the combat experience Hezbollah has amassed while fighting in the Syrian civil war.
“I really didn’t know that much about Israel and the UN. All I’ve done is tell the truth in what I’ve seen,” Haley explained. “To go and be at that hearing on the Middle East and to hear every single country not talk about the threats in the Middle East or terrorism that we’re seeing, but all they did is bash Israel. It was abusive. And they have done it every month for the last 10 years. Think about the time we could be working on other issues.”
Turning to the UN Human Rights Council, Haley emphasized that she told Geneva diplomats: “Look, the United States doesn’t want to leave the Human Rights Council, but you gotta give us a reason to stay.” Citing the regimes with deeply troubling human rights records such as China, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia who sit on the UN Human Rights Council, Haley brought attention to the council’s ‘obsession’ with the Jewish state. “Agenda Item 7 is only for acts solely condemning Israel. Why would you do that when you have Syria, North Korea and all these other places and you will have one agenda item for Israel? It’s just an Israel bashing item and it’s been there forever. What I want the attention to be on is North Korea and Syria.”
The former Governor of South Carolina concluded, “Israel was kind of like the kid in the school yard that gets bullied all of the time.”