US to Block Palestinian as UN Libya Envoy

Salam FayyadSalam Fayyad

The United States has objected to the appointment of a former Palestinian prime minister to lead the United Nations political mission in Libya, saying it was doing so to support its ally Israel.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Friday that her government “was disappointed” to learn UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres planned to appoint Salam Fayyad as the special representative, Aljazeera reported.

Fayyad served as the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007-13.

It was unclear whether the objection had ended Fayyad’s candidacy. The United States wields significant influence as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“For too long, the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said. “Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”

Aljazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from New York, said the “very strong statement” by the US ambassador had surprised many.

“Fayyad is universally liked by many diplomats here at the UN, so there was a real sense that the letter coming from Guterres was nothing more than a formality and that his appointment would be announced as early as next week.”

Palestine is a non-member observer state at the UN and its independence has been recognized by 137 of the 193 UN member nations.

Haley, though, said the US does not recognize a Palestinian state “or support the signal” Fayyad’s appointment would send.

UN diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP that Fayyad was well-respected for his work in reforming the Palestinian Authority and revitalizing the Palestinian economy.

Officials said Fayyad had the support of all 14 other Security Council members to succeed Martin Kobler, a German career diplomat who has served as the UN’s Libya envoy since late 2015.


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