Danon: “I will represent the Prime Minister” as Israel’s UN envoy

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Incoming Israeli United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon committed to representing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions in his new post, including a “vision” of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Danon, a hawkish Likud lawmaker who currently serves as Israel’s science, technology and space minister, was previously a staunch rival of Netanyahu’s. Netanyahu fired Danon from his post as deputy defense minister during last year’s Gaza war, after Danon criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict. After his dismissal, Danon lambasted what he called Netanyahu’s “leftist flaccid attitude.”

Danon has also long opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state, and told JTA in April 2014 that if Netanyahu moves to withdraw from the West Bank, he should be ousted from the Likud party. In January, Danon challenged Netanyahu for the leadership of Likud, but lost the vote by a wide margin.

But in a statement Saturday night, Danon said he has grown as a politician, and that he would support Netanyahu’s positions at the United Nations. Danon’s appointment was announced Friday, and he will be replacing current Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor.

“Today, more than before, I have a greater appreciation of my role as a public servant and the responsibility this entails,” the statement read. “As Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., I will represent the Prime Minister’s policies and positions on security and peace, including his longstanding commitment to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and his vision of two states for two peoples – a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”

Danon also said that, notwithstanding his previous criticisms of United States policy toward Israel, his “appreciation has grown for the depth and breadth of Israel’s security cooperation with the United States and its strategic importance to Israel.”

Danon’s appointment has drawn criticism from the Knesset’s center and left. Yair Lapid, chairman of the centrist Yesh Atid party, wrote on Facebook Friday that Netanyahu should have extended Prosor’s term, calling him “one of the best diplomats Israel has ever had.”

“Instead, Netanyahu continues the complete dismantling of our foreign service, and appoints a mediocre politician from the most extreme wing of Likud, bereft of diplomatic experience,” Lapid wrote.

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