Power at confirmation for U.N. post: Defending Israel would be a priority

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Defending Israel is a “key priority” for the United States at the United Nations, Samantha Power, the nominee for ambassador to the body, told a Senate confirmation hearing.

“The United States has no greater friend in the world than the State of Israel,” Power said at the hearing on Wednesday. “Israel is a country with whom we share security interests and, even more fundamentally, with whom we share core values — the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

Fighting for Israel was one of three key priorities Power named in her opening statement; the others were streamlining the organization and confronting human rights abuses among its members.

“Just as I have done the last four years as President Obama’s U.N. adviser at the White House, I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it,” Power said.

Power was pressed on statements she made in the past, including a 2002 interview in which she was asked how the United States should treat the potential for genocide in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The question was hypothetical, but Power in her reply referenced the then-raging second intifada and suggested that an international intervention force would be appropriate to protect Palestinians.

On Wednesday, she told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that she regretted those remarks, which she described as “rambling.”

Power repeated throughout questioning that on her watch, the United States would  continue to oppose Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood recognition through the body or its affiliates.

She did push back, however, against a proposal by Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) that the U.S. cut funding to U.N. bodies that recognize Palestine. The consequence of defunding those agencies, she said, would be not having a platform to defend U.S. interests or Israel.