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Haley accuses UN of 'anti-Israel bias' and tensions rise over proposed US budget cuts

Tracy Wilkinson, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Trump administration tensions with the United Nations over Israel won't help the world body as it tries to maintain some part of its funding from Washington.

Those tensions flared again Monday when both the State Department and the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. sharply attacked an agenda item in a U.N. meeting in Geneva that would have focused on alleged human rights abuse by Israel against Palestinians.

Ambassador Nikki Haley, speaking from the world body's headquarters in New York, said the decision to focus on Israel at the regular meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council reflected long-standing "anti-Israel bias" at the U.N.

"The United States will not participate" in the discussions "other than to vote against the outrageous, one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions that so diminish what the Human Rights Council should be."

She said the constant focus on Israel allowed other nations to distract from their own, often-egregious human rights records.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. will vote against any and every resolution that emerges from the debate.

"It does not serve the interests of the council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter," he said in Washington.

Last week, the United States blasted a report from a U.N. body that accused Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" on Palestinian territories.

The predominantly Arab group, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, was forced to withdraw the report amid the controversy, and its leader, Rima Khalaf, resigned.

The United States and Israel had said the report was inflammatory and anti-Semitic, and praised U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' decision to accept Khalaf's resignation.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the problem was not the report's content but that it had been published without going through proper secretariat channels.

The disputes come at a time the new Trump administration is proposing a drastic cutback in U.S. aid to U.N. programs and other multilateral international organizations. Instead, the administration wants to boost "hard power" defense spending by $54 billion annually.

The U.S. pays roughly one-fifth of the United Nations' regular budget, and cuts of the size President Donald Trump is proposing would dramatically curtail peace-keeping, health and education projects, advocates say.

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