United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed his “deep” regret for the opposition mounted by the United States to the designation of former Palestinian premier Salam Fayyad as the world body’s special envoy to crisis-hit Libya.
The UN chief made the remarks at the annual World Government Summit in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Monday, saying that he did not see "any reason” for the US opposition to the appointment of Fayyad, whom he described as "the right person for the right job at the right moment.”
Guterres also said that Fayyad, a Texas-educated former International Monetary Fund official, had a track record of fighting corruption and criticized the US for blocking his appointment, which he said had been "a loss for the Libyan peace process and the Libyan people.”
Libya has been engulfed in political and security turmoil since the NATO military intervention which followed the 2011 uprising that led to the toppling and killing of longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.
Fayyad, 64, who served as the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013, had on Wednesday been proposed by Guterres to the UN Security Council to replace Martin Kobler of Germany.
The UN chief needs the unanimous support of all 15 members of the council for the appointment of special envoys to conflict regions. On Friday night, however, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley blocked the designation by voting against Fayyad, saying that US President Donald Trump’s administration "was disappointed” to learn that Guterres had proposed such a person.
She also accused the world body of being "unfairly biased” in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the "detriment” of Washington’s allies in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US veto of Fayyad’s candidacy as going against the "free gifts constantly given to the Palestinian side.”
However, Guterres dismissed Nikki’s allegations and said that the world body "needs to be able to act with impartiality” and its loyalty should only be to its charter and not to any particular person.
The UN chief's remarks came a day after the leading Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Guterres had quite recently offered Israeli lawmaker Tzipi Livni the position of UN deputy secretary general.
The report, citing some unnamed UN officials, said that Guterres was allegedly trying to forge a deal with Washington, under which the US would take back its fierce opposition to Fayyad, Guterres' favorite pick for the position, and in return, US-backed Livni would attain the senior post at the world body.
If the Israeli lawmaker accepts the offer, she would become the first Israeli to serve as the UN under-secretary-general. The UN Security Council, however, will ultimately decide whether she gets the position.
The developments come as the Israeli regime is under fire for its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Since January 20, when Trump, an ardent supporter of Israel, took office, Tel Aviv has launched a major land grab drive in defiance of global calls for the regime to stop its settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands, Presstv reported.