WASHINGTON – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley promised to block the appointment of any Palestinian official for a senior role at the United Nations on Tuesday.
During a hearing before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Haley was asked in a heated exchange by Representative David Price (D-NC) about the administration’s decision to veto the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the role of UN head of political mission to Libya in February. “Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., called Mr. Fayyad a peace partner. The first Palestinian leader, he said, in a century who cared about the Palestinians,” Price noted. “Was Mr. Fayyad denied simply because of his nationality? Would any Palestinian have been blocked? As you know, this isn’t a state representative.”
Haley responded by acknowledging Fayyad’s credentials for the Libya role. “I will tell you that Mr. Fayyad is as you say, he’s very well qualified and is a good, decent person. I’ve heard great things about him. However, “it was not about Mr. Fayyad,” Haley explained. “It’s about the fact that the U.S. does not recognize Palestine… And because that is how he was presented, we did oppose that position.”
The North Carolina lawmaker further prodded, “Would not that reasoning exclude anybody of Palestinian nationality by virtue of their status of the Palestinian Authority, certainly something considerably short of a state? Are we just saying that no Palestinian need apply?”
Haley then confirmed that the U.S. would not support the appointment of any Palestinian individual until they are formally recognized by the U.S. as a state. “If we don’t recognize Palestine as a state, we needed to acknowledge also that we could not sit there and put a Palestinian forward until the US changed its determination on that front,” she explained.
During the hearing, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska, also criticized Haley for taking this position. “I didn’t see his (Fayyad) potential representation to the Libyan issue as some sort of proxy for the declaration of the Palestinian state,” Fortenberry said. “He’s not representing that. He is, if you will, a citizen of the world and extraordinarily qualified on many fronts and deeply respected by the Israelis.”
While serving as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Fayyad was widely praised by Republican officials and officials of the George W. Bush Administration for his anti-corruption efforts and moderate positions on the peace process. Fayyad also opposed unilateral steps taken by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations because he argued that they wouldn’t advance the prospects for peace.
At the hearing, Haley used the platform to criticize the UN peacekeeping body in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) for turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s growing presence south of the Litani River in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. She also attacked the UN Human Rights Council for its bias against Israel.