Whomever US President Donald Trump appoints to replace outgoing Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will have very large shoes to fill, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in response to Haley’s surprise resignation on Tuesday.
Haley was a godsend at the UN from Israel’s point of view, passionately, eloquently and calmly defending the Jewish State and calling out the world for its hypocrisy and bias towards the country.
It is a safe bet that whomever replaces Haley will reflect those policies as well, considering the Trump administration’s staunchly pro-Israel positions. But there is always that matter of style, passion and nuance – and that is where a difference might be felt.
No sooner had Haley announced her departure, then the speculation began as to whom Trump will tap as her successor. One of the first names mentioned was Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, whom Trump said would be “incredible “ in the job. She, however, made it clear that this was not going to happen, tweeting Tuesday evening, “I know that the president will nominate a formidable replacement for Ambassador Haley. That replacement will not be me.”
Here is a quick look at three of the leading names to replace Haley, and their involvement on Israel-related issues.
The Egyptian born Powell, who is fluent in Arabic joined, the Trump team in March 2017 as deputy national security adviser, after a period of serving as an advisor to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner during the transition period.
Powell, who was a spokesperson in the State Department under George W. Bush with a focus on outreach to the Arab world, played a leading role planning Trump’s maiden visit as president in 2017 to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and became a part of Trump’s Mideast negotiations team that included Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Powell stepped down two days after Trump announced his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem in December, and returned to Goldman Sachs in New York where she worked previously. The two events – according to media reports at the time – were unconnected.
Powell is considered close to Kushner and his wife Ivanka, as well as to Haley, and — adding to the speculation that she might be her replacement — was spotted with Haley over the weekend in South Carolina.
Trump said on Tuesday that she was under consideration for the job.
Another leading candidate is Richard Grenell, a long-time US spokesman at the UN who since May has been America’s ambassador to Germany. Grenell has a close relationship with National Security Advisor John Bolton, with whom he worked when Bolton was ambassador to the UN in 2005-2006
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Grenell briefly in Germany in May, shortly after the new ambassador rankled feathers in Europe by saying that he was excited about a “groundswell of conservative policies” in Europe that has resulted from “the failed policies of the left.”
“Grenell,” Netanyahu said after meeting him at the Berlin airport, is a “great fan of Israel.”
In an article in September in Germany’s Judische Rundschau that was translated and reprinted in the Jewish News Syndicate, Grenell said that he grew up in a house where over the kitchen sink was a sign that said “Pray for the peace of Israel.”
“I have six evangelical Christian ministers in my immediate family (I did not go into the family business), so I have a natural organic upbringing and education to not only respect Israel, but to really pray for its peace and regard it as a Biblical mandate,” he said.
He caused waves in Germany shortly after arriving by calling on German businesses to disengage from Iran, and has been quite vocal in Berlin against the Iranian nuclear deal – a deal which is supported by the Merkel government.
Grenell, who was a strong vocal supporter of Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, said he has been in Israel more times than he can remember.
Corker, the powerful head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has had a roller-coaster relationship with Trump, with the highs being his active consideration by Trump as a running mate in 2016, and the lows being a Twitter war with the president last year. After bearing the brunt of Trump insults, Corker, who has announced his retirement from the Senate at the end of his current term in 2019, replied: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult daycare center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Recently, however, Trump offered Corker the ambassadorship to Australia, a sign that the two have patched over differences to a certain degree and that it is at least conceivable that Trump would give the foreign policy maven the nod. Corker turned down the Australian job.
The two term senator is considered a staunch and steady friend of Israel, who opposed the Iranian nuclear deal – though some maintain that he could have done more to fight it – and was behind legislation that put in place a process allowing Congress to review and eventually vote on the deal, something President Barack Obama adamantly opposed to at the time.
He considers himself a “realist” on the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, came out in favor of the US embassy move, and was a leading supporter of the Taylor Force Act that cut US aid to the Palestinian Authority because of their payment to terrorists and their families.