United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley was well prepared for the barrage of questions CNN’s Wolf Blitzer fired at her, defending President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“This is just common sense,” Haley said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Wednesday. “This is just reality.”
Trump announced Wednesday that the administration would begin to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, acting under a 1995 law requiring the move which previous presidents failed to follow, including former President Barack Obama during his eight years in office.
Blitzer made several attempts to get the UN ambassador to agree with critics of the decision.
“But it is significant, ambassador, that you’re not willing to say, the old city of Jerusalem or east Jerusalem is part of Israel. You say, that’s still open to negotiation. Is that what I’m hearing?” he asked.
“Wolf, why would the United States say that? When we’re pushing a peace process, that’s really for the Palestinians and the Israelis to decide,” Haley responded. “If we decided that, we would be picking a side.”
Decisions about who owns parts of Jerusalem should be made by the Israelis and Palestinians as they both claim the city as their capital, Haley noted, repeating that the U.S. is not looking to defend one group over another.
“The last thing we’re going to do is pick what we think should happen, because at the end of the day, Palestinians and Israelis need to live together and live in the situation that they settle together. This is not something the United States wants to do,” she said.
Haley explained that other U.S. positions on Israel and the Palestinians remain unchanged in the wake of Trump’s announcement, including settlements in the region.
“The U.S. was not talking about, in any way, settlements or anything else,” Haley said. “This is just talking about the embassy being in the capital of Israel. We have long said that settlements are not a good idea. The Israelis, they are very familiar with us telling them that we don’t think it’s a good idea, especially when we’re moving through this peace process. We’re going to continue to say that.”
Blitzer noted that some Palestinian officials slammed Trump’s decision, with Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat saying the president “just destroyed any possibility of a two-state” solution.
“Anytime we make a decision, we get positive and negative reactions,” Haley replied in response to the comments, adding that tensions were “expected” to run high after Trump’s announcement but “it will pass.”
Haley also pushed back when Blitzer asked about the president’s advisers not agreeing with his decision.
“We’re moving something forward that hasn’t been done in 22 years. And this is about results and this is about courage,” Haley told Blitzer. “And I’ll remind you that when President Reagan made that famous speech that said, Mr. Gorbachev, bring down this wall, all of the people around him told him it was a bad idea.”
“Sometimes you have to take risks,” Haley added. “Courage leads to leadership. Leadership leads to peace. And we have to go with the truth.”
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