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Norwegian diplomat tapped as UN’s new Middle East peace envoy

Tor Wennesland set to replace Nickolay Mladenov, who was named as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s new special envoy for Libya

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Norway's special envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland, left. during a meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh in Ramallah in June 2020 (WAFA)
Norway's special envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland, left. during a meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh in Ramallah in June 2020 (WAFA)

A Norwegian diplomat with extensive experience in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been tapped to become the United Nations’ next special envoy for the Middle East Peace Process.

Tor Wennesland is set to replace Nickolay Mladenov, who was named as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s new special envoy for Libya, according to media reports.

According to Reuters, the appointments will be approved by Tuesday evening if none of the 15 states currently on the UN Security Council disapproves of them.

Wennesland, 68, entered the Norwegian foreign ministry in 1983. He currently serves as the country’s special envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, a post he held for several years, during which he oversaw Oslo’s role as one of the key donors to the Palestinian Authority.

In February 2019, he reportedly sought to meet with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Gaza but was rebuffed for unknown reasons.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov addresses a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, on March 24, 2016, at United Nations headquarters in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Mladenov, a Bulgarian diplomat, has held the role of the UN’s special envoy since 2015. While advocating for a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, he is generally appreciated by Israeli officials as an honest broker. He is credited with having helped mediate several ceasefire agreements between Israel and Hamas.

As the UN’s new envoy for Libya he is replacing Ghassan Salame, who stepped down in March.

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