The cabinet on Sunday approved Regional Cooperation Minister Gilad Erdan as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, and in the future, also the United States.
He will replace UN Ambassador Danny Danon and in January take over from Ron Dermer as ambassador to the US.
After that Erdan will fill both roles.
The cabinet also approved MK Ofir Akunis to become minister for regional cooperation.
The arrangement was planned under the unity coalition deal formed earlier this month.
At the cabinet meeting, Erdan told ministers he is only leaving “temporarily.”
“I am going to represent Israel with tremendous pride,” he said. “These are difficult days for Israel and the US — and in particular for US Judaism. The coronavirus hit many and it is threatening the lives of citizens and their livelihoods. We must show solidarity with our brothers who are fighting abroad for the existence of Jewish lives.
“This is a central mission. In the coming years we expect many challenges: Iran, and old and new anti-Semitism.” Erdan said.
In acknowledgement of the date, the day after July 4, Erdan said, “I wish our great friend a happy Independence Day.”
Erdan will take over from Dermer on January 21, the day after the next US president is sworn in following November elections in that country.
Under the coalition agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White — which has them rotate the post of prime minister — Netanyahu can pick Israel’s ambassadors to the UN, United Kingdom, France and Australia for the duration of the government’s tenure, while each of them can choose their own envoy to the US while serving as premier.
Blue and White has said that Gantz will make his own appointment for US ambassador.
Netanyahu previously offered Erdan the UN ambassador’s role after the first of three consecutive elections held over the past year, but the latter said he turned it down to stay and help Likud win the subsequent elections.
The only person to previously serve as ambassador to the US and the UN at the same time was Abba Eban, who is viewed as one of Israel’s greatest diplomats.
Danon, a former Likud minister who was appointed to a three-year term at the UN in 2015, has had his tenure extended several times.
Before becoming regional cooperation minister, Erdan was public security minister, a position now held by his fellow Likud party lawmaker Amir Ohana.