Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Wednesday he declined an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be Israel’s next ambassador to the United Nations.
“After considering the offer,” he wrote in a post on Twitter, “I’ve decided it is my duty to continue to serve as minister for public security and strategic affairs, and to remain in Israel at this vital time in order to do everything in my power to ensure the [election] victory of Likud, led by Netanyahu.”
Erdan, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, would have replaced the current ambassador, Danny Danon, whose term is supposed to end soon.
The UN posting is often seen as a mission impossible job in a hostile environment, where Israel is constantly attacked diplomatically. The job has in the past been held by Netanyahu, who represented Israel at the world body from 1984 to 1988, before being elected to the Knesset that year and later becoming prime minister in 1996.
It could take up to two months following the September 17 elections to form a new government, leaving senior Likud members with a five-month wait to find out if they will have a cabinet position. Erdan reportedly wanted the justice, foreign affairs, or education portfolios, all of which Netanyahu is expected to reserve for his top confidants and senior coalition partners, should he be tasked with forming the next government.
Appointing Erdan to the UN post would mean one less senior Likud member pushing for a key cabinet position. It would also put a veteran politician into a sensitive diplomatic posting in a year that may have significant developments with the Trump peace plan on the horizon.
According to reports, Netanyahu has offered Erdan the post on two previous occasions.
Last month, Netanyahu reportedly offered the job to New Right co-leader Naftali Bennett if he dropped out of the September elections. The appointment would have temporarily taken Bennett — an ambitious politician with aspirations to succeed him as premier, making him a potential threat — out of the Israeli political arena.
Bennett never confirmed the reports, but his party released a statement at the time saying he was only interested in a government position and that any other proposal was “irrelevant.”
Seen as a hawk, Danon stepped into the job in 2015 under a cloud of questions about his qualifications and ability to properly represent Israel, given his hardline politics and previous rejection of the peace process.