The new United Nations envoy to the Middle East, who will take up the baton in trying to solve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, has become familiar with the issue from up close over the course of his illustrious career.
The UN Security Council on Tuesday finally approved the appointment of Norwegian diplomat Tor Wennesland to the post, replacing Nikolay Mladenov, who held the position over the past six years.
The Bulgarian diplomat, who helped negotiate a number of ceasefires between Israel and Hamas, will officially leave his post next month, which is when Wennesland is set to take over.
Wennesland is an experienced diplomat who served as the assistant of Norwegian official Terje Rød-Larsen, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, and has been involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1993.
Later he served as adviser to British politician Tony Blair during the former British prime minister’s time as the region's envoy for the Middle East Quartet, which is involved in mediating the Israeli–Palestinian peace process.
In recent years Wennesland has served as an emissary to the Middle East for Norway, who is one of the largest states contributing to the Palestinian Authority. Last year he reportedly was scheduled to meet with Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar - though the meeting was eventually cancelled.
While certain Israeli diplomats say Wennesland’s approach may be less pro-Israeli than that of his predecessor, they emphasize he is a "fair" and experienced diplomat who understands Israelis very well, which could prove useful during potential negotiations with Hamas.
During his time as Norway's envoy, he was responsible on behalf of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, for the promotion of civilian projects in both the West Bank and Gaza.
Mladenov for his part will become UN's special envoy to Libya. During his tenure, Mladenov managed to gain a great deal of trust among both the Israeli leadership as well as Hamas, and has actually managed to prevent several military clashes between the two sides due to him being perceived as a fair mediator.
Despite his neutrality, Mladenov did not spare criticism for Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians and continued to call for the resumption of negotiations based on the two-state solution principle.