US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (AP/Richard Drew) (AP/Richard Drew)
Nikki Haley

The US stood beside Israel and blocked the appointment of a Palestinian leader to a senior UN post.

The US on Friday blocked the appointment of the former Palestinian prime minister to lead the UN political mission in Libya, saying it was acting to support its ally Israel.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Trump administration “was disappointed” to see that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had sent a letter to the Security Council (UNSC), indicating his intention to appoint Salam Fayyad, who served as the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007-2013, as the next UN special representative to Libya.

“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.

Palestine is a non-member observer state at the United Nations and its independence has been recognized by 137 of the 193 UN member nations. But Haley said the United States doesn’t currently recognize a Palestinian state “or support the signal” Fayyad’s appointment would send within the United Nations.

Despite opposition to Fayyad, Haley indicated that the Trump administration wants to see an end to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution,” she said.

Haley’s statement came ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting at the White House with US President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, and was welcomed by Israel.

“This is the beginning of a new era at the UN, an era where the US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish State,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said of the US decision to block Fayyad’s appointment. “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.”

The new US ambassador made clear that “going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”

The UNSC released a statement on their website on Saturday defending the proposal to appoint Fayyad, saying it was “solely based on Mr. Fayyad’s recognized personal qualities and his competence for that position.”

“United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country,” the statement explained.

The UNSC statement also noted that “no Israeli and no Palestinian served in a post of high responsibility at the United Nations. This is a situation that the Secretary-General feels should be corrected, always based on personal merit and competencies of potential candidates for specific posts.”

Palestinians Enraged

The Palestinians slammed the US move as “a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity.”

Saturday morning, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi denounced the US attempt to block Fayyad’s appointment, calling it “unconscionable” and “a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity.”

“It defies logic that the appointment of the most qualified candidate is blocked because it is perceived as detrimental to Israel. It constitutes a blanket license for the exclusion of Palestinians everywhere,” Ashrawi said in the written statement.

She went on to express hope that “saner voices will prevail and that the US will take back this irrational and discriminatory decision immediately and not deprive the UN of such a highly qualified individual. Rather, they should block petty acts of bigotry and vindictiveness and the further victimization of the Palestinian people for the mere fact of their existence.”

It remained unclear whether or not the US objection had ended Fayyad’s candidacy for the post.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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