Long-running PM-FM feud on UN post set to end next week

Among the candidates are current ambassador Meron Reuben, former ambassador Dore Gold, and ambassador in London Ron Prosor.

February 11, 2011 03:52
2 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN

UN General Assembly 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman intend to decide who Israel’s next ambassador to the United Nations will be over the course of the next week and bring the appointment to the cabinet for approval a week from Sunday, sources close to the two men confirmed Thursday.

Netanyahu and Lieberman have sparred over the post for nearly a year, with the prime minister wanting former ambassador Dore Gold to return to the UN and Lieberman suggesting Environment Minister Gilad Erdan and former consul-general in New York Alon Pinkas.

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Lieberman bypassed Netanyahu six months ago by selecting career diplomat Meron Reuben for a temporary appointment that did not require the prime minister’s approval. After reports that Lieberman had discussed appointing a permanent ambassador at a meeting of top Foreign Ministry officials on Wednesday, Netanyahu’s office was quick to react that he would be the one making the final decision.

“The prime minister will consider the possible candidates, hear Lieberman’s recommendation and make a decision,” a source close to Netanyahu said. “He knows the importance of the UN ambassadorship having held the job himself.”

Lieberman’s associates said he was tired of waiting to appoint an ambassador. He waited for months for Erdan to decide whether to take the post until he announced on Tuesday that he was turning it down.

“The time has come for a permanent ambassador,” a source close to Lieberman said. “He wanted Erdan, but now that he is not in the picture, he intends to appoint someone now.”

Sources close to Lieberman said there was no connection between his haste and the Attorney-General’s Office’s decision about whether to indict him, which is expected to be announced by the end of the month.

Israel Radio reported Wednesday that Lieberman intended to offer the ambassadorship to Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who is respected around the world as a leading authority on democracy and human rights. Sharansky and his associates heard about the offer from the radio, and he immediately turned it down and said he would stay at the Agency.

The only remaining candidates Lieberman is known to support are Reuben and Israel’s ambassador in London, Ron Prosor. Haaretz reported Thursday that Lieberman had offered the post to Prosor before, but he decided to stay in London.

Netanyahu is said to still support appointing Gold, who as head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has been active in efforts to prevent the nuclearization of Iran and the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

Gil Shefler contributed to this report

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