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Palestinians slam American blocking of ex-PM from key UN post

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres informed the Security Council in a letter that he intends to appoint former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, seen in 2008, to replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been Libya envoy since November 2015
AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP/File)
US ambassador says US 'disappointed' about appointment of Salam Fayyad

Palestinian leaders on Saturday condemned Washington's decision to block the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the new United Nations envoy to Libya as "blatant discrimination", while Israel’s ambassador to the body Danny Danon hailed the start of a “new era at the UN”.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley earlier said in a statement that she did not "support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations," where the General Assembly recognizes Palestine as a non-member observer state and not a full member.

Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi dismissed the "flimsy excuse" for a move she described as "unconscionable."

"Blocking the appointment of Dr. Salam Fayyad is a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity," she said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres defended the appointment via a spokesman.

The decision to put forward his candidacy "was solely based on Mr Fayyad's recognized personal qualities and his competence for that position," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country," he said.

Danon praised Haley's move, saying that the US "stands firmly and unapologetically beside Israel,” Danon said.

“The new Administration proved once again that it stands firmly alongside the State of Israel in the international arena and in the UN in particular,” Danon said, adding that “the new administration is working towards the joint interest of the United States, Israel and the special alliance between our two nations.

Danon said he was confident that the “US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish State.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had informed the Security Council this week of his intention to name Fayyad to lead the UN support mission in Libya and help broker talks on a faltering political deal.

Haley said the United States was "disappointed" to see the letter from Guterres, his first appointment of an envoy to a major conflict area.

"For too long, the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel," said the US ambassador.

"Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies."

The UN chief had given the council until late Friday to consider the choice, and the United States came forward to raise objections.

Susan Rice, who was national security adviser under former president Barack Obama in 2013-2017, expressed dismay over Haley's statement, writing on Twitter: "Are all Palestinians precluded from serving the UN? This statement is ignorant, offensive, counterproductive."

Dan Shapiro, US ambassador to Israel from 2011 to 2017, called the move "stunningly dumb" on his Twitter account.

Martin Indyk, twice US ambassador to Israel and a former US Special Envoy for Israeli–Palestinian Negotiations, noted that Haley had on Thursday dined with Trump and the multi-billionaire, strongly pro-Israel business magnate Sheldon Adelson and speculated that Adelson had vetoed the appointment of Fayyad.

Fayyad, 64, was prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013, and also served as finance minister twice.

He had been tapped to replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been the Libya envoy since November 2015.

US President Donald Trump and Haley have criticized the United Nations for adopting a resolution in December that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building.

The US rejection of Fayyad came as the council was negotiating the wording of a US-drafted statement condemning a stabbing attack by a Palestinian man in Israel Thursday.

Bolivia also raised objections to the statement, saying it should include a reference to the UN resolution condemning settlements that also denounces violence.

The council will discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday, the same day that Trump is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

In a shift from his previous hard-line support for Israeli policies, Trump told a Hebrew-language newspaper that he did not believe Israeli settlement expansion was "good for peace" and signaled that he might be rethinking his plan to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

(staff with agencies)

Comments

(2)
christiaan

ofcourse, it would be as if the league of nations put on a nazi german into key position . . . . . or did they?

StopThisMadness

"Blocking the appointment of Dr. Salam Fayyad is a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity," she said. You have no such nation nor the rights that come with it

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