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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu hails US veto of Palestinian as Libya envoy

Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday hailed the US veto of a Palestinian to be named UN envoy to Libya, saying the world body failed to give equal consideration to Israelis.

"I was informed of the possibility of the appointment of Salaam Fayyad to a UN position," he said at Israel's weekly cabinet meeting.

"I said that the time has come for reciprocity in the UN's relations with Israel and free gifts cannot be constantly given to the Palestinian side," Netanyahu said, welcoming the US veto.

"The time has come for positions and appointments to be made to the Israeli side as well," he said, quoted in a statement issued by the prime minister's office.

According to Israeli media reports, the Jewish state could accept the appointment of Fayyad, a former Palestinian premier, if Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister of Israel, were offered the post of a UN deputy secretary of state.

UN chief Antonio Guterres yesterday defended his choice of Fayyad to be the UN peace envoy to Libya, a day after the United States blocked the appointment.

The choice "was solely based on Mr Fayyad's recognised personal qualities and his competence for that position", said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country."

Guterres had informed the Security Council on Wednesday of his intention to appoint Fayyad.

But the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Washington did not "support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations", where the state of Palestine does not have full membership.

"For too long, the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel," she said in a statement.

The UN secretary general seeks the unanimous backing of all 15 Security Council members for appointments of his special representatives to conflict areas.

Fayyad had been tapped to replace Germany's Martin Kobler, who has served since November 2015 as envoy to Libya, which has been in turmoil on the security and political fronts since a 2011 revolution that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi. 

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