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Gilad Erdan to step down as ambassador to US, will continue as UN envoy

Likud member ready to exit position as soon as new government approves a replacement, says he plans to end role in November at the latest

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan speaks at the UN in New York in January 2021. (Shahar Azran/ Israeli Mission to the UN)
Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan speaks at the UN in New York in January 2021. (Shahar Azran/ Israeli Mission to the UN)

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan, announced Sunday that he will leave as soon as a new envoy is appointed, and will not continue in his post beyond the end of November.

Erdan said in a statement that he feels the new government should install its own representative in Washington.

However, Erdan, a former minister for the Likud party, said he plans to continue to serve as Israel’s envoy to the United Nations.

Erdan has served as envoy to the UN since July 2020 and as ambassador to the US since January of this year.

Diplomatic sources told the Times of Israel that Erdan had coordinated his plans in advance with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

“I am proud of the privilege to represent Israel to its most important allies,” Erdan said. “Nonetheless, it seems proper to me that the person who represents the government to the US administration should be appointed by the incumbent government and therefore I let the prime minister know of my intention to end my term immediately after the government approves an ambassador.

“I will continue to defend Israel at the UN and to fight for our cause in the international arena,” he said.

Erdan was appointed by the previous government under former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud party leader. The unity government had agreed that Erdan would serve in the double role until the end of November 2021, at which point Blue and White leader Benny Gantz had been scheduled to take over the premiership.

With the collapse of the unity government in December, elections were called and Netanyahu found himself as leader of the opposition as Bennett took over.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on June 20, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand/Pool/AFP)

Last week, Foreign Ministry sources told the Times of Israel that Lapid’s first personnel priority was appointing 36 diplomats whose postings had been held up by the Netanyahu government for over six months, due to the dysfunction of the previous coalition. That having been achieved, his team is now working on selecting the nominees for numerous open diplomatic positions reserved for political appointees — including ambassadors to France, Canada, and Australia.

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