UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says that the US decision to block a former Palestinian prime minister from leading the UN political mission in Libya was “a serious mistake”. Washington blocked the proposed appointment of Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007 to 2013, a week ago. It said it was acting to support its ally, Israel. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Guterres said: “I believe that it’s essential for everybody to understand that people serving the UN are serving in their personal capacities. They don’t represent a country or a government”. Guterres said that Fayyad “was the right person in the right place at the right time” Palestinians condemned the decision. US ambassador Nikki Haley announced she was blocking the appointment because “for too long, the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel”. Palestine Liberation Organisation 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. Fayyad had been tapped to replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been the Libya envoy since November 2015.
Former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad has said there will be “no deal” with the Israelis over his appointment as the next UN envoy to Libya. There have been widespread reports that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered former Israeli government minister TzipiLivni the post of assistant secretary-general in return for Israeli, and by extension, US support for Fayyad taking up the Libya envoy post. There has been no formal statement about the offer, and Livni herself has refused to make any comment. However, if appointed, she would be the first Israeli to hold a top UN job. Writing in his Facebook page, Fayyad said that he would have nothing to do with any such attempt to get around the US objection to his appointment, which in any event, he added, was completely illogical. The opposition of new US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to his appointment on the basis that as a Palestinian he is unacceptable has resulted in a wave of international astonishment as well as criticism of Haley and of the Israeli government which subsequently backed her stand. Even in Israel there has been strong criticism. Fayyad, a former finance minister as well as prime minister, is widely respected as a moderate and pragmatist who tried to reform Palestinians institutions and put an end to corruption.
The UN Special envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, is to be replaced by former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in a decision by the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In his final report to the Council yesterday, Kobler said: “The citizens of Libya deserve security and an end to the rampant crime and lawlessness.” While at times optimistic about Libya’s economic situation, he insisted corruption remained, health services were inadequate and poor financial management continued. The new special envoy, US-educated Salam Fayyad, was Palestinian finance minister from 2002 to 2005 and Palestinian prime minister from 2007 to 2013. His background is in finance, having previously worked for both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and is regarded as having been a successful finance minister. Seen as both a conciliator and a pragmatist, he will, however, have his work cut out for him in trying to implement a Libyan Political Agreement that is widely seen as broken and unimplementable.