meron reuben 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Meron Reuben, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s surprise choice for interim
envoy to the UN, has addressed criticism of his appointment in an exclusive
interview with The Jerusalem Post, saying that while he is not the only person
capable of doing the job, he is certainly among those qualified to hold the
Reuben, whose mother tongue is English, said that he
was honored – and very pleasantly surprised – to have been selected by
Lieberman, whose office called him about a month ago to tell him he was the
minister’s choice. Reuben, a 22-year veteran of the ministry, was not one of the
names that had been mentioned for months as a possible candidate.
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49-year-old, South African-born Reuben, who also speaks fluent Spanish, said his
11 years of diplomatic activity in South America – where he learned an enormous
amount about the Third World – and his 11 years working in different capacities
in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem had prepared him for the multifaceted
position in New York.
Lieberman announced last Friday that he was
appointing Reuben as interim envoy to the UN, a move taken so he could bypass
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and not need to get his approval for the
appointment. The two, at odds over a number of issues, have for months been
unable to agree on whom to send to the UN. The term of the current ambassador,
Gabriela Shalev, expires on September 1.
Reuben, who has not yetspoken to Netanyahu, acknowledged that while he had Lieberman’s confidence, he
would have to work to build confidence with the prime minister.
he felt like a pawn in a power struggle between Netanyahu and Lieberman, Reuben
responded, “I am not a politician. Granted, I played student politics in
my youth, but I left it. I am a civil servant. My foreign minister has asked me
to take on a very important post, the most important post in my 22-year career,
and I will do it to the best of my ability.”
Reuben, Israel’s ambassador
to Colombia, met Lieberman when the latter spent two days in Bogota
South American tour last summer. A few days after Colombia’s elections
mid-June, when Lieberman called him to get a sense of how he thought
would play out, Lieberman’s aides told him he was being considered for
“I presume it is the dream of every diplomat to be either
ambassador in Washington, or in the UN; these are the top positions in
country’s diplomacy,” he said. “But had I thought about it two months
Reuben will be only the second Foreign Ministry employee to hold the
post in 35 years. He said he had been asked to take up the job on an
“If it becomes more than temporary, then it will be nice,” he