US blocks appointment of ex-Palestinian PM as UN envoy to Libya

UNITED NATIONS: The United States has blocked the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad to be the new UN envoy to Libya, in what was seen as a show of the Trump administration’s support to Israel at the world body.
UN a statement late on Friday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that President Donald Trump’s administration “was disappointed” to learn that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had proposed Fayyad to the Security Council as the next UN special representative to the North African country.
“For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley further said, adding that she could not support the appointment since the state of Palestine is not a full member of the world body.
Haley’s comments come as 137 of the 193 UN member states have already recognized the state of Palestine, which is also a non-member observer state at the UN. Washington has yet to recognize the state of Palestine.
Reiterating Washington’s support for Israel, she also said, “Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”
The 64-year-old Palestinian politician served as prime minister from 2007 to 2013, and was the finance minister twice, from 2002 to 2005, and 2007 to 2012. Fayyad is well-respected for his work in reforming the Palestinian Authority and spurring its economy and had the support of the 14 other Security Council members to succeed Martin Kobler in the Libya job.
Guterres had given the Security Council until late Friday to consider Fayyad as a replacement for Martin Kobler of Germany, who has served as the Libyan envoy since November 2015. Fayyad’s appointment had come amid diplomatic negotiations over changes to a UN-brokered political deal that led to the formation of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s unity government.
The Sarraj government was installed in Tripoli last year, but has failed to assert control further east, where strongman General Khalifa Haftar holds sway. Kobler told the Security Council on Wednesday that talks on “possible amendments” to the political agreement were making progress. It was the first major appointment by Guterres of a special envoy to a conflict area since he became UN chief on 1 January.
US President Donald Trump and Ambassador Haley have criticized the UN for adopting a resolution in December that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon praised the US decision and described it as “the beginning of new era where the US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish state.”

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