The country’s newly elected president seeks to maintain good relations with Washington as opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian scheme builds.
The diplomatic cost of defending the Palestinians went up this week.
On Thursday, Tunisia’s United Nations ambassador, Moncef Baati, was abruptly summoned to his capital after leading diplomatic negotiations on a Palestinian draft Security Resolution declaring U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan in breach of international law, according to three diplomats. Trending Articles
Two of those diplomats said they understood Tunisia’s newly elected President Kais Saied had fired Baati—who has served for only five months—following complaints from the United States. It is viewed as part of an effort to head off a major rift in relations with the United States at the start of his administration.
The Tunisian foreign ministry issued a statement saying Baati had not adequately coordinated his U.N. stance with that of the government. “Tunisia’s ambassador to the United Nations has been dismissed for purely professional reasons concerning his weak performance and lack of coordination with the ministry on important matters under discussion at the UN,” according to the statement.
Baati attended a meeting of the Security Council Thursday morning, according to diplomats, but said he was on his way home before the end of the day. “Everybody was in shock,” said one U.N.-based ambassador. “He was among the most respected ambassadors at the United Nations and the government said he was fired because he was unprofessional? It’s a joke.”
“This undercuts the credibility of Tunisia,” the ambassador added. Another source said Tunisia’s new president is looking to remove top officials from the previous government, including Baati, and a complaint delivered from the White House sealed his fate.
The move came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity at the U.N. on the eve of a high-level visit to the Security Council next week by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is expected to denounce the Trump plan before the U.N. Security Council, condemn Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank, and present an alternative Palestinian peace plan. He will be joined during his visit to New York by former Israeli President Ehud Olmert, who will also express his opposition to the U.S. plan.
On Thursday, Trump’s Middle East advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner lunched with Security Council members at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Armed with charts and maps, he sought to win support from a skeptical audience for the 181-page plan, which would provide the Palestinians with limited sovereignty over their affairs.
The plan has met with a wall of hostility since Trump unveiled it at a White House event on Jan. 28. The so-called peace vision would allow Israel to keep strategic territory in the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, and Jerusalem, ensuring that some 700,000 Israeli settlers can remain on lands captured by Israel. Israel would also grant Israel control over a unified Jerusalem, leaving the door open for the Palestinians to build the capital of a new Palestinian state in a poor neighborhood in east Jerusalem, cutting it off from the city by a concrete separation barrier. A new Palestinian state would be demilitarized, with Israel maintaining considerable security control over a future Palestine. Israel would also maintain security control over a demilitarized Palestinian state.