JERUSALEM — The cartoon in Israel’s popular daily Yedioth Ahronoth probably sums up the view of most Israelis since Nikki Haley’s announcement Tuesday that she is leaving her position as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Haley’s announcement at a news conference with President Trump, which was aired live in Israel on Tuesday, immediately drew an outpouring of appreciation for the former South Carolina governor, who has long been viewed here as a savior of sorts at an institution accused of harboring a long-term bias against the Jewish state.
“I thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for leading an uncompromising struggle against the hypocrisy at the U.N. and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country. Best of luck!” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a statement.
Netanyahu later tweeted a photo of him and Haley: “Thank you Amb. Haley for standing for the truth and exposing hypocrisy at the UN. Just as the people of Israel are grateful for the rock solid support @POTUS Trump has provided Israel in the Oval Office, we are grateful for the rock solid support you’ve provided Israel at the UN.”
Thank you Amb. Haley for standing for the truth and exposing hypocrisy at the UN. Just as the people of Israel are grateful for the rock solid support @POTUS Trump has provided Israel in the Oval Office, we are grateful for the rock solid support you’ve provided Israel at the UN. pic.twitter.com/RFQ7u3lOvI— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 9, 2018
Netanyahu, who has long criticized the United Nations, calling it a “theater of the absurd,” hailed the U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council in June as a victory for Israel.
“For years, the UNHRC has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights,” Netanyahu said after the U.S. withdrawal. “Instead of dealing with regimes that systematically violate human rights, the UNHRC obsessively focuses on Israel, the one genuine democracy in the Middle East.”
It was not the only time Haley appeared to advocate for Israel. She also is thought to have been a major force behind the Trump administration’s decision last month to cut all funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to 5 million Palestinian refugees scattered around the Middle East.
On Tuesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called Haley “a true ambassador” for Israel and an “uncompromising advocate of American policy towards the Middle East and Israel.”
“She never wavered in her support for our clear right to maintain the security of our region,” he said. “More than once, by speaking clearly, she tore away the cynical smokescreen that was masking what the United Nations and international organizations were really doing.”
Haley visited Israel only once during her time as U.N. ambassador, in June 2017, but during the three-day stay she received somewhat of a hero’s welcome, meeting with an array of Israeli officials and being treated by the Israeli military to a helicopter ride over the blockaded Gaza strip.
“You know, all I’ve done is to tell the truth, and it’s kind of overwhelming at the reaction,” Haley said during her visit to Israel. “If there’s anything I have no patience for, it’s bullies, and the U.N. was being such a bully to Israel, because they could,” she said.
On Tuesday, the army was among those that sent the outgoing ambassador a message. “Thank you @nikkihaley for your service in the @UN and unwavering support for Israel and the truth. The soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces salute you!”
Writing in the Israel Hayom newspaper on Wednesday, Danny Danon, Israel’s representative to the United Nations, said Haley’s time in the international agency marked a “new era” for Israel.
“For years, we had become used to regarding the UN as an institution that contained the lies, distortions, and half-truths spread by the Arab states and our enemies around the world,” he wrote. “It was a period in which the terror machines of Iran, the terrorism of Hamas, and the lies of the Palestinian Authority were revealed to the world and showed the true faces of our enemies."
Thank you, @nikkihaley! Thank you for representing the values common to #Israel and the #UnitedStates. Thank you for your support, which led to a change in Israel's status in the UN. Thank you for your close friendship. You will always be a true friend to the State of Israel. pic.twitter.com/kErDLLEiNz— Ambassador Danon (@dannydanon) October 9, 2018
But not everyone in Israel is sorry to see her go. Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Arab faction in Israel’s parliament, wrote on Twitter that Haley’s resignation should stand as a warning to the Israeli government: “I know that some will have a hard time believing it, but Trump will not stay here forever either."