US diplomat praises Israel’s ‘restraint’ over Gaza protests

Nikki Haley tells UN moving embassy to Jerusalem does not undermine prospects for peace

 Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN said: ‘No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.’ Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN said: ‘No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.’ Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA


US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has praised Israel for showing “restraint” in its response to protests in Gaza, as she addressed the UN Security Council in New York.

Ms Haley said that Hamas had been “inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy” to Jerusalem.

“Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would,” she said. “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”

Ms Haley said the decision to move the US embassy to Jersualem “does not undermine the prospects for peace in any way”.

The top US diplomat was speaking as violence continued in Gaza, a day after 60 people were killed and more than a thousand people injured by Israeli forces. The protests, which had been happening since March 30th, erupted on Monday as the US officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem.

UN human rights officials called for an independent investigation into the violence, but any move is likely to be blocked by the US at the UN Security Council.

UN Secretary General António Guterres, who is due to meet US president Donald Trump in Washington on Friday, said he was “profoundly alarmed and concerned by the sharp escalation of violence” and the number of dead. “It is imperative that everyone shows the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life,” he said.

The decision by the Trump administration to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was flagged in December, but the official unveiling on Monday was marred by violence.

Fewer than half a dozen diplomatic staff are initially moving to the site in West Jerusalem which has served as one of two US consulates in Jerusalem since its completion in 2010.

The decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem marks the US as an outlier in terms of international policy towards the Middle East. Only Paraguay and Guatemala are following their lead by moving their embassies to the contested city, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital.

Among those who travelled to Jerusalem to witness the unveiling of the new US embassy were prominent Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, Florida governor Rick Scott and Mike Huckabee, father of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband and special adviser to the president Jared Kushner, and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin also attended.

‘Fact over fiction’

Hours after the unveiling, vice-president Mike Pence was guest of honour at the Israeli embassy in Washington for an event celebrating 70 years of Israeli independence.

“By finally recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction. Fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace,” he said. “As we look at Israel today, it is extraordinary to behold all the progress she has made, and the example that she sets. Today, the modern state of Israel is not only 70 years old – Israel is 70 years strong.”

Noting that Mr Trump had fulfilled a promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem he said: “From King David’s time to our own, president Trump has now etched his name into the ineffable story of Jerusalem.”

Several senior Democrats have also spoken out in favour of the contentious move to relocate the US embassy, including senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

“In a long overdue move, we have moved our embassy to Jerusalem. Every nation should have the right to choose its capital,” the New York senator said in a statement on Monday. “I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud president Trump for doing it.”