As U.N. envoy, ex-Netanyahu rival says he’ll represent prime minister


TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel’s new U.N. ambassador, a former staunch rival of Benjamin Netanyahu, committed to representing the prime minister’s positions at the world body, including a “vision” of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Danny Danon, a hard-line lawmaker from Netanyahu’s Likud party, in a statement Saturday night said he has grown as a politician.

Netanyahu fired Danon from his post as deputy defense minister during last year’s Gaza war after Danon criticized the prime minister’s handling of the conflict. After his dismissal, Danon lambasted what he called Netanyahu’s “leftist flaccid attitude.”

“Today, more than before, I have a greater appreciation of my role as a public servant and the responsibility this entails,” read the statement by Danon, currently the science, technology and space minister, who was tapped for the post on Friday. “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, who will succeed Ron Prosor at the United Nations starting at the end of October, according to Haaretz, 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 Likud. In January, Danon challenged Netanyahu for the party leadership but lost by a wide margin.

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.”

His appointment has drawn criticism from the Knesset’s center and left. Yair Lapid, chairman of the centrist Yesh Atid party, wrote Friday on Facebook that Netanyahu, the acting foreign minister, 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.

Prosor has served as the U.N. envoy since June 2011.

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