The Livni Plot
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Someone must be awfully desperate to get a Palestinian into high office at the United Nations. How desperate? If one believes the news reports, the new general secretary of the world body is so eager to have a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority as a UN envoy that he is prepared to take on an Israeli as an undersecretary general. Egad. Can one imagine? Not since the UN charter was drawn up at San Francisco has the United Nations been prepared to admit an Israeli to its top executive ranks. And on the current terms, we wouldn’t recommend taking the bait.
The way this is going down is that the new secretary general, Antonio Guterres of Portugal, wants to name Salam Fayyad, a former Palestinian premier, as his envoy to Libya. He sent a note to that effect to the Security Council, where the idea was promptly scotched by America’s new permanent representative, Governor Haley. Mr. Guterres had described Mr. Fayyad’s country as “Palestine.” Mrs. Haley, recognizing that as a slippery slope, nixed the idea, as our Benny Avni reported, “unceremoniously.”
News of Mrs. Haley’s heresy had barely crossed the wires when we started wondering how long it would stand. Sure enough, Haaretz reported that a plan is being hatched to make Israel’s former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, an undersecretary general of the world body. “Officials in the UN see the offer as a deal,” Haaretz reported — a deal in which America would “take back” its opposition to Mr. Fayyad, and “in return” Mrs. Livni’s appointment would be “greenlit.”
A spokesman for the United Nations is denying to our Mr. Avni the Haaretz account. Haaretz, though, wouldn’t make up a report. It says that Mrs. Livni “received a phone call” from Mr. Guterres, who “offered her the position.” It quotes Mrs. Livni’s office as saying that no “official” offer has been received. Mrs. Livni and Mr. Guterres are “acquainted” from her term as Israel’s foreign minister and his as Portugal’s premier. It says that Mrs. Livni met with him at New York.
We don’t mind saying that we would love to see an Israeli be welcomed to management at the United Nations. Mrs. Livni, though left of center, is, in our view, over-qualified (she has held something like seven cabinet posts in Israel). The UN’s seeming policy of “no Israelis need apply” for top jobs has been one of the disgraces of the world body for years. It’s just offensive that the first time such a chance is offered — if it is on offer — is in a deal to get a comparable assignment to a man who, in Mr. Fayyad, is from a “country” that is not member of the United Nations and is not even a country.
Mr. Fayyad himself has, we gather, quite a few admirers among those who have been watching the Middle East over the years. The way he has been advanced, however, adds up to another example of the elites floundering for a way to weasel around the decisions made by voters in a free election. The New York Times’ account of the drama of the past few days suggests it was the White House itself that put a stop to making Mr. Fayyad (Palestine) an envoy of the UN. That in and of itself is an encouraging sign.