During her Senate confirmation hearing, the newly-nominated US representative at the UN has pledged to fight for Israel to have a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council. Samantha Power dismissed remarks attributed to her 11 years ago that angered Israel and said: "The United States has no greater friend in the world than the State of Israel." She said that she is there to combat the "unacceptable bias" against Israel at the UN.
"Just as I have done as President Obama's UN adviser at the White House, I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it," she insisted. "We will make every effort to secure greater integration of Israeli public servants in the UN system."
Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which reported the story, said that US officials have always been saying, "There is no better friend to Israel than the US."
When asked about her previous remarks, when she demanded that aid to Israel be stopped, she said that they were part of "a long, rambling and remarkably incoherent response to a hypothetical question that I should never have answered".
Power also expressed support for increased pressure on Iran and maintaining the military option to deter its development of a nuclear weapons programme.
Commenting on the UN Human Rights Council, which issues statements frequently about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, Power said: "Israel – not Iran, not Sudan, not North Korea – is the one country with a fixed place on the Human Rights Council's agenda. Israel's legitimacy should be beyond dispute, and its security must be beyond doubt."
According to MEMO's Senior Editor Ibrahim Hewitt, Power missed the point with this answer: "She didn't address the issue of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians; she simply sought to divert attention away by mentioning the other countries, Israel's legitimacy and its security." The aim is obvious, he insisted. "Like other pro-Israel lobbyists, she wants to equate genuine concerns about Israel's illegal policies and actions against the Palestinians with attempts to say that the state should not exist." This is an attempt to stifle genuine debate about Israel's constant violations of international laws and conventions, he pointed out. "The 'de-legitimisation' argument ranks next to accusations of 'anti-Semitism' in the pro-Israel Lobbyists' toolkit to kill open debate on the issue."
Power joined Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and served on his National Security Council until early this year. She was obliged to resign but was allowed to return to the scene quietly. Working alongside the US ambassador to the UN Suzanne Rice, she has fought against what was called attempts to "de-legitimise" Israel.