President Joe Biden’s nominee for USAID, Samantha Power, who has been criticized for past anti-Israel statements and actions, is facing tough questions at her confirmation hearing, especially over a controversial decision made during her tenure as U.N. Ambassador under former President Barack Obama in late 2016.
Her decision to abstain from U.N. Security Council resolution 2334, which condemned as violations of international law Israel’s presence in “the occupied Palestinian territories” which it defined as including “East Jerusalem” and incorporating the “Old City of Jerusalem”, sparked outrage at the time. The historically rare American abstention, was the key to the resolution’s unanimous passage by the other 14 members of the body.
At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed Power’s decision to abstain from the resolution, calling into question what he described as “the most shameful moment of the Obama administration.” He described the vote as a “pile of lies” and said that it was motivated by anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, according to the Jewish Insider.
Power refused to answer Cruz’s questions about whether she personally supports the resolution. However, she defended her non-vote at the UNSC as part of the Obama’s administration’s continuing strategy to encourage Israel and the Palestinian Arabs to “avoid unilateral steps” including inciting violence, terrorism and the “building of settlements.”
“The problem with the resolution was by and large the venue, because the U.N. has been so biased,” said Power.
Cruz asked if her if the Obama Administration’s abstention on the resolution was done out of spite, coming a month after the Democrats lost the 2016 election. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seen as an ally of then President-elect Donald Trump.
The resolution was passed, due to the abstention, with “the acquiescence of the United States and of you as U.N. Ambassador and, at worst, the active encouragement of the Obama administration,” said Cruz.
At the hearing Power said that the two “guiding principles” of her time at the U.N. with regards to Israel where fighting anti-Israel bias and “preserving space for a two-state solution.”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) released a statement describing its reaction to Power’s appointment to USAID, which Biden has elevated to the National Security Council, as “appalled.” At the top of the list of their objections is her anti-Israel record.
“The ZOA strongly opposes the nomination of Samantha Power to head the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),” the ZOA stated. “Power… uses the mantra of ‘human rights’ to condemn and damage human rights-loving countries, especially the U.S. and Israel, and to instead support murderous hateful regimes. Confirming Power to head USAID would enable her to spend billions of American tax dollars to put her harmful, hypocritical agenda into effect. ZOA urges the Senate to not confirm Power.”