Erdan to inform PM whether he will accept UN envoy’s post

Last-minute dispute between Netanyahu, Lieberman could foil appointment; PM could still decide that Erdan is more needed in Israel.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 13, 2011 06:25
1 minute read.
Environmental Minister Erdan

Erdan 311. (photo credit: Israel Sellem)

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan will decide by Sunday whether he intends to accept the offer to become Israel’s next ambassador to the UN, sources close to Erdan said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman both want Erdan to accept the post. But a last-minute dispute between the two of them could still foil the appointment, and Netanyahu could still decide that Erdan is more needed in Israel.

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Erdan has spoken to Netanyahu about the post several times in recent days. He is expected to hold an in-depth meeting with the prime minister before making a final decision about whether to take the prestigious job, once held by Netanyahu himself.

“No one doubts that Erdan is fit and can fulfill the position well,” a close associate of Netanyahu’s said. “A decision still needs to be made about where he is more needed. If he decides to take the job, I don’t think anyone will stand in his way.”

The current UN ambassador is Meron Reuben, a career diplomat with 22 years of experience in the Foreign Ministry, who was born in South Africa and assumed the post in September as a temporary appointment.

Erdan, a 40-year-old attorney, is considered a rising star in Likud. A native of Ashkelon, he finished second in the Likud primary behind Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar to win the third slot on the Likud list and has succeeded in doubling his ministry’s budget.

Accepting a three-year appointment in New York would almost certainly rule out his running for the next Knesset. But the ambassadorship would boost his credentials on diplomatic issues and make him a future candidate for a senior ministerial portfolio.

Should Erdan leave the Knesset, he would be replaced by the next name on the Likud list, Aleli Admaso, who would be the second Ethiopian immigrant in the Knesset, after Kadima’s Shlomo Molla.


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