Samantha Power
Samantha PowerReuters

Samantha Power, U.S. President Barack Obama's pick to serve as envoy to the United Nations, earned approval on Tuesday from a key Senate panel, AFP reported.

This paves the way for her expected confirmation by the chamber.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted overwhelmingly in support of Power, a genocide expert and human rights champion, to be Obama's ambassador to the global body.

Power enjoys broad bipartisan support and is expected to sail through to confirmation, reported AFP.

Power, 42, would replace Susan Rice, who was appointed national security advisor. She has come under criticism for a number of remarks she made a decade ago, including speaking of "crimes committed" by the U.S. government.

She has also been criticized for past statements against Israel, including a 2002 interview in which she said that "external intervention" may be necessary to prevent "genocide" and "major human rights abuses" in the "Palestine/Israeli situation".

During that interview, Power responded to a hypothetical question and said that if given the opportunity she would advise the president to sacrifice billions of dollars of aid to the Jewish state, allocating the funds instead  to “the new state of Palestine.”

Last week she appeared to have done a complete 180, slamming the UN’s "unacceptable bias" against Israel and pledging to lobby hard to get Israel a seat on the Security Council in 2018.

Power told the Committee that America enjoys a "special relationship" with Israel, whose "legitimacy should be beyond dispute, and its security must be beyond doubt."

She added, "Within this (UN) organization built in the wake of the Holocaust... we also see unacceptable bias and attacks against the state of Israel."

At the same confirmation process, Power raised the ire of Venezuela when she said she would stand up to "repressive regimes" and challenge the "crackdown on civil society" in the oil-rich South American nation, according to AFP.

In response, Venezuela said it has "ended" its rapprochement with the United States, slamming what it called her "interventionist agenda."

Senators made no mention of the Venezuela row in Tuesday's committee meeting, noted AFP.

Senator Marco Rubio, who was one of two lawmakers to vote against Power on the 18-member panel, said that she had “failed to distance herself” from her past statements “and offered insufficient explanation, leaving me with serious concerns about some of her views.”