UN Secretary-General António Guterres is considering appointing Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister (Zionist Union) to a senior position in the United Nations at the rank of Under-Secretary-General in return for the US withdrawing its objection to a Palestinian appointment.
Over the weekend, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley blocked the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad to lead the UN political mission in Libya.
Seeking to resolve the crisis, Guterres has offered to appointing Tzipi Livni to the senior post if the Americans remove their objection to Fayyad’s appointment.
Guterres has reportedly spoken to Livni over the weekend and discussed the appointment with her. Sources close to Livni said the appointment has not been officially offered to her.
It is unclear, however, whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would allow such a solution, as this would mean the promotion of one of his staunchest politician opponents.
Under-Secretary-General (USG) is one of the highest ranks in the organizations, which can be given to a wide variety of position holders. Among the positions reportedly being considered for Livni are Under-Secretary-General for Public Information or a special UN envoy, among others.
Such a position includes a staff, an office, a salary of $200,000-$250,000 a year, and an expense account of some $1 million a year.
Guterres sent a letter to all members of the UN Security Council last week announcing his intentions to appoint Fayyad as the UN’s special envoy to Libya. According to UN procedures, the appointment must receive a unanimous approval from the members of the Security Council to be approved.
Fayyad’s planned appointment angered both the Americans and the Israelis, particularly as the secretary-general’s letter mentioned in parenthesis that Fayaad was a representative of “Palestine.”
A Palestinian official has never been appointment to such a senior position and Israel is worried of the precedent of appointing a Palestinian official to such a high-ranked position, the likes of which was never given to an Israeli.
US Ambassador Haley said the Trump administration “was disappointed” of Guterres’s intentions to appoint Fayyad. “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.
She added that the US does not recognize a Palestinian state and does not support the message Fayyad’s appointment would send.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon welcomed the American statement, saying “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.”
Dan Shapiro, until recently the US ambassador to Israel, criticized the American move to block the appointment, calling it “stunningly dumb.”