The United States has voiced its objection to the appointment of a former Palestinian prime minister to lead the United Nations’ political mission in Libya.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres notified the U.N. Security Council in a letter Thursday that he planned to name the Western-educated economist Salam Fayyad to the position. The internationally respected Fayyad, who is 64, served as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007-2013 and was the authority’s finance minister.
But U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley released a statement Friday saying the United States is “disappointed” at the choice.
“For too long the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said in her statement. She added, “Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”
The United States is among a minority of U.N. members that do not recognize Palestine as an independent state, which only has nonmember observer status in the world body.
It is not clear how the U.S. objection will impact Fayyad’s candidacy.
In December, during the last days of the Obama administration, the U.S. chose not to veto a U.N. resolution reining in Israeli settlement building, allowing the measure to pass.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the U.S. abstention and the resolution itself “shameful” and said his government would ignore its provisions.
Israel Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon released a statement Friday, praising the Trump administration for its support of his country.
“This is the beginning of a new era at the U.N., an era where the U.S. stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish State,” Danon said.
Where does Trump stand?
Trump’s support for Israel, however, was thrown into question Friday after an interview with him was published in an Israeli newspaper.
The U.S. president told Israel Hayom newspaper that Israeli settlement building hurts the peace process.
“The [settlements] don’t help the process,” Trump said. “There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left.”
Adding to the confusion, Trump told Britain’s Daily Mail during his presidential campaign that Israeli settlement building should “keep moving forward.”
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the United States next Wednesday, the same day the United Nations holds its monthly meeting on Middle East issues.
The United Nations has not issued a formal comment.