US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Sunday cited “the will of the American people” in defending President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there.
“For 22 years you have had presidents and the American people ask for the embassy to be moved, and no president – not Clinton, not Bush, not Obama – actually had the courage to make that move and listen to the will of the American people,” Haley said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
On Wednesday, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plans to move the US Embassy to the city.
“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Trump said Wednesday. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the President’s announcement. But the decision brought swift condemnation from Palestinian leaders and several nations and sparked clashes around the world.
Because of the Trump administration’s move, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his upcoming regional visit, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Saturday.
Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said in a statement Sunday on the Palestinian president’s decision, “It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan.”
Haley defended the administration’s decision at an emergency UN Security Council meeting Friday, which was called in response to the announcement about the plan to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Haley acknowledged the pushback while speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
“When it comes to those that are upset, we knew that was going to happen, but courage does cause that,” she said.
Following Wednesday’s announcement, Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, said in a statement that it “destroyed any possibility of a two-state (solution)” and told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that “President Trump tonight made the biggest mistake of his life.”
But when asked about the backlash, Haley insisted that the decision would help peace process.
“I strongly believe this is going to move the ball forward in the peace process,” Haley said.
CNN’s Allie Malloy contributed to this report.