The decision appointing MK Tzipi Livni to a UN Under-Secretary-General position has garnered a slew of responses from political figures in Israel. At present, Livni's position is seen as resting on another move intended by UN Secretary General António Guterres—appointing former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a senior position in the organization.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly involved in the negotiations, and on Sunday he even addressed the issue at the opening of the cabinet meeting—inferring that he supports Livni's would-be appointment. "A few days ago, I was told of the possibility of Salam Fayyad's appointment to the UN," he said. "I responded that it's about time for a bit of reciprocity regarding Israel; the Palestinian side can't keep getting freebies all the time. It's time they give the Israeli side some appointments as well if Fayyad is indeed eventually appointed," he added.
Netanyahu's comments roused a reaction from Culture Minister Miri Regev, who was quick to note in front of the cameras: "Don't take this to mean that the prime minister confirms Livni's appointment as appropriate or suitable. Israel should have a representative, but I'm not sure this would be an appropriate or suitable appointment." Netanyahu did not comment on Regev's statement.
Despite Regev's objections, some positive reactions were heard as well. MK Bezalel Smotrich tweeted: "As a Zionist, a patriot and an experienced woman—Livni is sure to do a good job. Enough with the automatic classification of right and left." Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked tweeted in response: "Right you are."
In addition, Israel's Consul General in New York Dani Dayan, whose appointment as the Ambassador to Brazil was torpedoed following left-wing opposition, tweeted: "It would be an honor and a great service to Israel." MK Yehuda Glick praised the appointment possibility but opposed the deal: "If the appointment is contingent upon Fayyad's appointment, then we should pass."
On the left side of the political grid, compliments abounded. Zionist Union Leader Yitzhak Herzog tweeted: "It would be a great honor for Israel."
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak added in a tongue-in-cheek remark: "What do we care if Fayyad is sent to Lybia? The UN is not 'fake news.'"
Guterres and Livni have discussed the possibility of such an appointment in the past, however, over the weekend, the process seemed to be infused by a sense of urgency—after the Americans vetoed the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Fayyad to the position of UN envoy in Libya.
The American protest was based on Fayyad's association with "Palestine"—even though such an entity is completely non-existent in the eyes of the organization—as well as due to the fact that no Israeli had ever received such a senior position.
In the days following the US's veto, Guterres has sought a way out of the conundrum, calling Livni to speed up the process of her appointment. Thus, even though this wasn't an official "Livni for Fayyad" deal, that still appears to be the case. That said, diplomatic sources have estimated that even if Fayyad's appointment falls through, there is still a decent chance Livni will get the position. The matter should be solved in the next few days.
The coveted position is on the level of a UN under-secretary-general—which would make Livni one of 91 other under-secretary-generals in the organization. If Livni scores the appointment, she will not be dealing with issues relating to the State of Israel or the Middle East. Rather, her intended role will probably include humanitarian and human rights issues. Taking office will force her to resign from the Knesset and move to New York.
Simultaneously, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is compiling a list of additional candidates for a senior position in the UN, among them former Minister Limor Livnat and Deputy Director General of North America in the Foreign Ministry Liora Herzl. Nevertheless, the UN is not subject to any Foreign Ministry recommendations, and doesn't even require the approval of the heads of state for the appointments.