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Time for Israel to Patch Things Up at the U.n., New Ambassador Says

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Israel should stop being so defensive at the United Nations, according to the country’s new ambassador to the world body.

“I think the defensive approach was derived primarily from Israel’s standing in the region,” Yehuda Lankri told Israel Radio on Sunday. “But for more than two decades, we have been on the threshold of the peace process — and we have to exploit this new status to try to move from a defensive approach to one of more openness towards the family of nations.”

On Sunday, the Cabinet approved the appointment of Lankri, a former Knesset member and ambassador to France. The Moroccan-born Lankri, 51, is considered close to Foreign Minister David Levy and has served in the Israeli Parliament as a member of his Gesher movement.

Lankri’s remarks came as Israel readies for possible diplomatic confrontations at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly, where the Palestinians hope to see a number of anti-Israel resolutions approved.

Levy has directed Israel’s missions abroad to try to thwart these efforts. At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, he protested that the Palestinians negotiate with Israel on the one hand and try to put pressure on Israel and turn international opinion against it on the other.

Lankri said Israel should try to get beyond stamping out diplomatic brush fires in the United Nations.

“We must focus our energies and creative efforts on advancing central issues and not get bogged down in marginal ones,” he said.

He added that he believes Israel could be more involved in U.N. activities, especially in the area of humanitarian work.

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