Israel’s UN envoy said under fire for using post to advance own political agenda

Gilad Erdan, a holdover from previous Netanyahu government, denies reported accusations by Foreign Ministry officials, who call for probe into his conduct

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan addresses the Security Council on October 19, 2021. (Courtesy)
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan addresses the Security Council on October 19, 2021. (Courtesy)

Senior officials in the Foreign Ministry are reportedly accusing Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan of using his post to advance his own personal political agenda.

Channel 12 news on Wednesday quoted one of those unnamed officials claiming Erdan is “doing everything in order to get fired” and is jeopardizing his continued stay in New York.

Erdan, a former minister for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, is a holdover from the previous government led by the former prime minister who appointed him to serve as ambassador to the US and UN last year. When the new government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was sworn in last June, Erdan agreed to step down from the post in Washington to make way for an envoy more suited for the new coalition’s agenda. However, it was decided that he would remain in New York at the UN, where Israeli policy has remained largely static throughout the various governments.

The senior Foreign Ministry official told Channel 12 that instead of leaving politics in Israel, Erdan has remained tapped into internal affairs in Likud, which he is rumored to show interest in leading upon his return from the US.

“He is sending text messages to members of the Likud Central Committee, was interviewed without permission by [pro-Netanyahu newspaper] Israel Hayom and has been doing all types of shows to his base all day long instead of working,” the network quoted the source as saying.

In June, Erdan liked a post on Twitter by pro-Netanyahu journalist Shimon Riklin, which labeled Bennett’s decision to form a unity government with Lapid “the biggest act of fraud ever committed by Israeli politicians.”

Then-public security minister Gilad Erdan, accompanied by Likud activists, makes a campaign stop at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market on September 13, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

As frustration with Erdan increased, Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Ushpiz held a phone call with the envoy where the latter pushed back against accusations that he has been acting out of line, according to the report.

The Foreign Ministry went a step further, appealing to the Civil Service Commission in order to examine Erdan’s performance in the US, Channel 12 said.

“We will need to examine whether Erdan’s actions are consistent with his status as a public servant,” the Foreign Ministry official told the network.

However, it is unclear whether the Foreign Ministry will be able to fire Erdan as he is under contract for another year and a half. There were reports earlier this year that Lapid wanted to dismiss the Netanyahu-appointed Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely, but the foreign minister found himself limited as Hotovely, too, is under contract and just cause would be needed for her firing.

A source close to Erdan responded to the report, telling Channel 12 that the ambassador “works day and night to represent Israel at the UN in a statesmanly, positive manner and his activity is highly regarded.”

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