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PLO slams US veto of ex-Palestinian premier as UN Libya envoy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows ex-Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has condemned the US decision to block the appointment of a former Palestinian Prime Minister as UN special envoy to Libya.

UN chief Antonio Guterres announced Salam Fayyad’s nomination on Thursday and the Security Council was expected to approve the appointment without objections.

However, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a statement late on Friday that President Donald Trump’s administration “was disappointed” to learn that the UN secretary general 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 favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley further said, adding that she could not support the appointment since Palestine is not a full member of the world body.

Haley reiterated Washington’s support for Tel Aviv, saying “the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”

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On Saturday, PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi denounced Washington’s "flimsy excuse" for the move as "unconscionable."

"Blocking the appointment of Dr. Salam Fayyad is a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity," she said.

Palestine Liberation Organization executive committe member Hanan Ashrawi speaks at a press conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on February 24, 2015 (Photo by AFP).

Meanwhile, the UN chief’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, defended the candidacy, saying it "was solely based on Mr. Fayyad's recognized personal qualities and his competence for that position.” 

Fayyad, 64, served as the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013 and he was nominated for the UN position in Libya to replace Martin Kobler of Germany.

The US move came 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.

Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon praised the US decision and described it as “the beginning of a new era where the US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm" Tel Aviv.

Washington’s decision to block Fayyad's appointment also comes nearly two months after the new US administration criticized the United Nations for passing a resolution condemning Israel's settlement construction.

UNSC Resolution 2334 was passed with 14 votes in favor and one abstention -- by the US -- on December 23, 2016. It condemned the establishment of settlements by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories as a “flagrant violation under international law.”

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