The United States has vetoed the appointment of former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the position of United Nations envoy to Libya.
The new U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stated she would not “support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations.” Palestine has only non-member observer status with the UN.
The appointment, which requires the approval of the Security Council, was proposed by the new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. His intent was for Fayyad to help the Libyans reach a political settlement.
An American-educated former teacher, banker and International Monetary Fund official, Fayyad was prime minister of the PA from 2007 to 2013. He resigned over political and economic differences he had with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
An enigmatic figure, Fayyad had been accused of turning a blind eye to Palestinian leaders’ embezzlement of international funds, but has also received praise from Israel, Palestinians and the international community for his reform policies in the West Bank.
In 2010, New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman, wrote that Fayyad, “calls for a nonviolent struggle, for building non corrupt transparent institutions and effective police and paramilitary units, which even the Israeli army says are doing a good job.”
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported: “Fayyad, an economist … has led the nation-building drive, backed by hundreds of millions of dollars a year in international aid, while Abbas and others have lobbied individual countries to recognize a Palestinian state.”
In regards to recognition of a Palestinian state, Fayyad was openly skeptical about the merits of recognition in the UN. In 2011 he reportedly said: “Unless Israel is part of that consensus, [there will be no change on the ground] because, to me, it is about ending Israeli occupation.”
Fayyad’s policies were also aimed at weakening Hamas in Gaza by strengthening the economy in the West Bank.
On the other hand, Israel was angered in 2010 when Fayyad visited the families of three terrorists who murdered Rabbi Meir Avshalom Cha before being killed by the IDF. Fayyad referred to the terrorists as “martyrs.”
Israel is pleased with last week’s US veto of Fayyad.
“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,” said Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon.
Some in the media have speculated that Guterres will seek to get Fayyad’s appointment through by offering a high ranking UN position to a senior Israeli politician in return. It has been reported that Guterres may offer the post of Under-Secretary General to Tzipi Livni, formerly Israel’s foreign secretary. No Israeli has ever held such a high position in the UN.
Livni, who recently created her own political party, Hatnuah, is a strong proponent of a two-state solution that protects Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state alongside a Palestinian state.
However, although Livni has recently met with Guterres in New York, both her office and the UN have denied she has been offered any position there.