Netanyahu said to offer UN ambassador post to Gilad Erdan

Public security minister mum on report, has previously turned down job; current UN envoy Danny Danon’s term set to expire this summer

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, June 2, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, June 2, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to serve as Israel’s next ambassador to the United Nations, Channel 12 news reported Monday.

Erdan, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, would replace the current ambassador, Danny Danon, whose term ends in a few weeks.

Both Netanyahu and Erdan refused to comment on the report, Channel 12 said, adding that Erdan has twice turned down the offer in recent years.

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 becoming prime minister in 1996.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, center waving flag, leads UN envoys in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade along New York City’s Fifth Avenue, June 2, 2019. (Israel Mission to the UN

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 coalition.

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.

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 hard-line politics and previous rejection of the peace process.

However, shortly after arriving in New York, Danon adapted to his new role and changed his tune, saying Israel wanted a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report

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