Israel is used to being on the defensive at the United Nations, where it is outnumbered by its foes, but on Thursday its delegation at UN headquarters in New York scored a rare victory.

For the first time, Israel took a seat on the executive board of the United Nations Development Program, a top UN agency with a budget of about a billion dollars, according to the Israeli mission in New York.

“This is a milestone in Israel’s integration to the global agenda of the UN,” Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative Haim Waxman said. “Furthermore, this is the expression of a journey that we have taken from being a developing nation born in adversity to becoming a developed nation, a member of the OECD and now a full member of the UNDP as a representative of the West.”

Haim Waxman (Courtesy Israel Delegation to UN)The UNDP supports a myriad of projects in 177 nations working on health, welfare and women’s empowerment issues. Israel was voted to its executive board as a representative of the Western voting bloc that includes the US, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany and Japan. Its new position on the board will lend it a voice in setting the UNDP’s agenda and deciding on its budget.

Waxman said Israel was proud to be a member of the organization and would use its technological and agricultural knowhow to help developing nations. The Jewish state would make women’s empowerment one of its top priorities, he said.

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