NEW YORK (JTA) – Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations and a strong defender of Israel in the world body, has resigned, according to reports.
Axios and The New York Times reported Tuesday morning that the former South Carolina governor had stepped down from her position.
Haley. a moderate on U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy team, had a warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who frequently praised her for criticizing what she saw as bias against the Jewish state at the UN.
The most consequential actions she took had to do with Israel: She pulled out of UNESCO, the United Nations cultural affiliate, and pushed for the defunding of UNRWA, the agency that administers assistance to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. She threw a party for countries that did not vote to condemn the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Haley was a star in the centre-right pro-Israel community, consistently earning the loudest plaudits at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.
“Her departure was unanticipated and took the pro-Israel community by surprise,” Matt Brooks, the Republican Jewish Coalition CEO, said on Twitter. “Stunned and shocked by the surprise resignation of @nikkihaley as UN Amb. She was a consequential and impactful force at the UN.”
Haley downplayed reports of tensions between her and Trump. Born to immigrants from India, she comes from the wing of the Republican Party that favours a robust interventionist foreign policy, while Trump is an isolationist.
Haley condemned another senior aide who favored foreign policy interventionism and expressed opposition to Trump in an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times last month.
“If I disagree with something and believe it is important enough to raise with the president, I do it,” Haley wrote in her own op-ed in The Washington Post. “And he listens. Sometimes he changes course, sometimes he doesn’t. That’s the way the system should work.”
The Washington scuttlebutt at the time was that Haley published the op-ed to squash rumours that she had written the original anonymous op-ed in The Times. It may have backfired; there were reports that Trump resented even the notion that his top staff disagreed with him.
Haley backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another fiercely pro-Israel interventionist, during the 2016 presidential primaries. She has denied ambitions of mounting a 2020 primary challenge against Trump. If she did, Haley could tap into a Republican Jewish donor class that fetes her pro-Israel credentials and has never been wholly comfortable with Trump.