Gov. Nikki Haley questions US funding of United Nations at Senate confirmation hearing

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Haley spoke on Russia, Israel too.

AB Wire

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, President-elect Donald Trump’s pic for UN ambassador, has stirred a controversy by querying at her Senate confirmation hearing whether the US’s funding of the world body is worth it.

Haley also rapped the UN for its treatment of Israel and indicated that she thinks the US should reconsider its contribution of 22% of the annual budget, reported CNN.

“Are we getting what we pay for?” she asked.

Haley was questioned if she would shy away from cutting funding to certain UN agencies that take stands that displease the US.

“I won’t shy away, and I need your help to do it,” she told lawmakers, adding that her message to the UN would be, “If this doesn’t change, the funding will stop.”

Later, Haley tried to soften her stance in an effort to appeal to Democrats who stressed the UN’s work on health and food programs.

“I do not think we need to pull money from the UN, we don’t believe in slash and burn, it’s not something I would consider,” Haley said, adding that she would advocate looking at individual parts of the UN and whether they deserved US backing.

“The UN and its specialized agencies have had numerous successes,” Haley said. “However, any honest assessment also finds an institution that is often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers … I will take an outsider’s look at the institution.”

In her opening statement, Haley emphasized the ways in which her experience as governor suited her for the UN job, saying she’d focus on US interests. In her remarks, she spoke at length on one international issue: Israel.

She said a December UN Security Council resolution that calls on Israel to stop settlement construction in Palestinian areas is “damaging” and a reflection of the UN’s “long-history of anti-Israel bias.” That resolution passed when the US abstained from voting.

“Nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel,” Haley said. “Last month’s passage of UN Resolution 2334 was a terrible mistake, making a peace agreement with the Israelis and the Palestinians even harder to achieve.”

In her opening remarks, Haley stressed to the committee that in “the matter of human rights … I have a clear understanding that it’s not acceptable to stay silent when our values are challenged.”

She also acknowledged Russian hacking during the presidential election, something Trump has only done recently and grudgingly. Haley said that at the UN she would convey “that we are aware that it has happened, that we don’t find it acceptable, and that we are going to fight back every time we see something like that happening.”

Haley also condemned extrajudicial killings directed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. And she backed away from the idea of a registry of Muslim citizens in the US, reported CNN.

And she made clear that she has differences with Trump on the UN as well.

Trump has “made comments about the UN, but those are not my feelings and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said, apparently referring to tweets in which the President-elect has dismissed the UN as a “club” for people who like a good time.