Likud hawk Danny Danon on Saturday promised to faithfully represent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s two-state “vision,” moderate his previous criticisms of the Obama administration, and “surprise his critics,” after political opponents slammed Netanyahu for naming him Friday as Israel’s next envoy to the UN.
“I’d like to address head-on some questions that have been raised following the announcement of my upcoming appointment as Israel’s ambassador to the UN,” Danon, the current minister of science, technology and space wrote in a statement.
“I am honored to have been chosen by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to represent the State of Israel. Today, more than before, I have a greater appreciation of my role as a public servant and the responsibility this entails,” he declared.
An insistent opponent of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Danon nonetheless promised to put such views aside and instead champion Netanyahu’s. “As Israel’s ambassador to the UN, 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 wrote.
“I will equally represent the Prime Minister’s deeply held belief that the relationship between Israel and Jewish communities everywhere is of paramount importance for the future of the Jewish people, and that all Jews should be able to feel at home in Israel,” he added.
As for the Obama administration, which he has previously slammed for attempting to force Israeli “capitulation” on the Palestinian issue, here too Danon promised a new approach. “Finally, I have been in the past outspoken in my criticism of the US administration’s Middle East policy. But as a full minister who participates in government deliberations, my appreciation has grown for the depth and breadth of Israel’s security cooperation with the United States and its strategic importance to Israel,” the minister said.
“I will fulfill my duties as Israel’s ambassador to the UN responsibly, respectfully and proudly. I intend to surprise my critics,” he wrote.
Danon, who in the past tried to challenge Netanyahu for the party’s leadership, was publicly critical of the prime minister’s handling of Operation Protective Edge, Israel war in Gaza last summer. After leveling incessant criticism despite serving in the government as deputy defense minister, Danon was fired by Netanyahu last July.
Commenting on Danon’s appointment to the role of UN envoy on a Saturday afternoon talk show, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid bundled Danon with other right wing critics of a recent High Court of Justice ruling on a law to jail African migrants. Lapid said that for politicians like Danon, former Likud prime minister Menachem Begin would not be sufficiently hardline and “would not get through the (Likud Knesset) primary today.”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, writing on her Facebook page, dryly characterized the Danon appointment as “correct.”
“I must admit I really don’t get those who wonder about the appointment of Danny Danon, Minister of Science, Technology and Space, to the role of Israel’s envoy in the UN. What would you prefer? That Netanyahu send there another person who will serve as a fig leaf, like [Zionist Union co-leader] Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid were in his last government?
“I would like to commend Prime Minister Netanyahu for one of the most correct appointment we’ve seen recently. There is no choice more fitting than Danon, who opposes the two-state solution, supports annexation of the West Bank and seeks any chance to incite and inflame hatred,” wrote Gal-On.
It is good, she wrote, that the prime minister decided “to give up the act, remove the masks, and admit to the international community that this is the face of his government: isolationist, refusenik, annexing, radical, racist and gung ho.”
Labor’s Shelly Yacimovich, also writing on Facebook, tried to convey her shock at the appointment.
“Hi this is Shelly. Danny Danon is our ambassador at the UN. Danny Danon is our ambassador at the UN. Danny Danon is our ambassador at the UN,” she wrote.
“I roll this on my tongue to try and find one crumb of logic and rational thinking in this appointment, and the only image that comes to mind is adding a dry log, soaked in kerosene, to the bonfire of our relations with the White House,” she wrote.
Yachimovich then linked a YouTube clip from Operation Protective Edge, when she and Danon had a debate on live TV, where she argued against Danon for his proposals to “crush and conquer Gaza.” She said she explained to him at the time that his “insistence of painting Israel, because of Netanyahu’s agreeing to a ceasefire, as submissive, weak and afraid, was actually immensely damaging to the country’s deterrent capabilities.”