By: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Nations—
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the U.N. General Assembly this week, neither U.S. Secretary of State Kerry nor even U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power were present.
Why not? The State Department has said Kerry was involved in some kind of conference call or video conference with the White House. OK, let’s call that plausible. What about Power?
Richard Grenell, for years the spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and a very well-informed observer, tweeted yesterday that Power was instructed to stay away.
Think of how petty that instruction, which can only have come from the White House, really is. To sit in the seat and listen to Netanyahu isn’t endorsing his remarks, it is the politeness we owe an ally. Deliberate absence recalls the years in which dozens of delegations, Arab and “Third World,” would leave the chamber when any Israeli rose to speak. The Obama administration is still griping about diplomatic errors Netanyahu has made, but a refusal to have the U.S. ambassador listen to his speech is petty and damaging, hinting to anti-Israel delegations that the United States may be willing to let all sorts of anti-Israel measures go without opposition or criticism.
This is a low point for seven years of Obama diplomacy. I’ll admit to surprise that Kerry, who appears to value diplomatic niceties greatly (and arguably too much) let this happen. But perhaps he knew nothing about it or was overruled by the White House.
As for Power, one has to wonder what was running through her mind when she was instructed to stay away. Is this really why she left the academic and intellectual life — to be used by the Obama administration to insult and damage Israel?