Israel concerned about new UN envoy for peace process

Tor Wennesland (NRK)

Middle East Monitor  /  December 18, 2020

Israeli officials are reported to have expressed concerns that Norwegian diplomat Tor Wennesland has been appointed as UN Special Envoy to the Middle East Peace Process, local media have reported. The appointment was announced on Monday by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, one Israeli diplomat has said that although Wennesland has extensive experience in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he will operate from a perspective less supportive of Israel than his predecessor, Nickolay Mladenov. The Bulgarian has been named as UN Guterres’s new Special Envoy for Libya.

The Israeli diplomat claimed that Wennesland is regarded as being close to Hamas and has good contacts with the movement. At times, he has helped to reduce tension between Israel and the movement. “Mladenov started his post from a more pro-Israel point of view, but this does not make his successor anti-Israel,” added the diplomatic source.

Wennesland, 68, has served as Norway’s envoy for the Middle East Peace Process for several years, during which he oversaw Oslo’s role as one of the key donors to the Palestinian Authority.