U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration blocked on Friday the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to lead a United Nations mission to Libya, in a move which was presented by U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikky Haley as a gesture of support to Israel.
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But had the Trump administration asked for a second opinion from Israel's Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer the decision to block Fayyad’s appointment could have been reversed. In April 2013, Dermer - a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - praised Fayyad and called the Palestinian politician "a peace partner" and "the first Palestinian leader in a century who cared about the Palestinians."
Dermer, who was Netanyahu's chief political adviser from 2009 to 2013, told Jewish-American leaders about Fayyad shortly after the latter resigned from the post of prime minister due to tensions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to Dermer remarks, Fayyad's resignation was bad news, since he was a rare Palestinian leader that Israel could actually make progress with.
"I don’t believe that Fayyad’s departure from the scene is going to be very good for peace," Dermer said. "In my view, Fayyad was the first Palestinian leader in a century who cared about the Palestinians. There’s been many Palestinian leaders that cared about the Palestinian cause, but Fayyad is the first to actually care about the Palestinians."
Dermer added: "And from that point of view—not because he’s a Zionist—from that point of view, I think he was a peace partner, because he wants a better life for them. Any Palestinian leader who wants a better life for the Palestinians would want to have peace with Israel. So he is now departing from the scene; that doesn’t bode well."
Dermer's remarks were part of a wide-ranging lecture on Israel's geopolitical situation at the time. Fayyad was one of the only Arab leaders praised by Dermer during the talk.
The Israeli ambassador’s view of the former Palestinian politician represents what many senior Israeli officials think of Fayyad. This, however, did not stop the Trump administration on Friday from vetoing Fayyad's appointment to a position that had nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.