The Palestinians condemned as “blatant discrimination” Saturday Washington’s decision to block the appointment of their former prime minister Salam Fayyad as U.N. peace envoy to Libya.
U.N. chief Antonio Guterres nominated Fayyad to the post on Thursday and the Security Council had been expected to approve his appointment without objections.
But late on Friday, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley announced she was blocking the appointment.
“The United States was disappointed to see a letter indicating the intention to appoint the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister to lead the U.N. Mission in Libya,” Haley said in her statement.
“For too long, the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” she said.
The diplomat added that the United States “does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nation.”
But Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi dismissed the “flimsy excuse” for a move she described as “unconscionable.”
“Blocking the appointment of Dr. Salam Fayyad is a case of blatant discrimination on the basis of national identity,” she said.
It was unclear whether Haley’s objection had ended Fayyad’s candidacy.
Fayyad, 64, a Texas-educated former International Monetary Fund official, was prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from 2007 to 2013. He has also served as finance minister twice.
He had earned praise in the international community for his efforts to crack down on corruption and to build effective Palestinian public institutions.
He had been tapped to replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been the Libya envoy since November 2015.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Haley have criticized the United Nations for adopting a resolution in December that demanded an end to Israeli settlement building.
“Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies,” Haley said on Friday.