One-fifth of all ambassadors to U.N. currently in Israel

The purpose of the trip is to give the ambassadors, who are often called upon to vote on Israel-related issues a first-hand look at the challenges the country faces.

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April 16, 2018 19:11
4 minute read.
Ambassador Danon speaking with the UN ambassadors at Masada

Ambassador Danon speaking with the UN ambassadors at Masada. (photo credit: AVI DODI)

 
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Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon is acting as a guide for some 20% of his fellow ambassadors to the UN, who are currently getting a closeup look at Israel and will be here for Independence Day.

“I have brought groups of ambassadors here before, but never a delegation this large,” Danon said.

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The purpose of the trip is to give the ambassadors, who are often called upon to vote on Israel-related issues – and who generally don’t vote in Israel’s favor – a firsthand look at the challenges the country faces and to emphasize, in light of recent UNESCO votes that have sought to erase a Jewish connection to Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s link to the historical capital.

After visiting the City of David on Monday, Ethiopia’s Ambassador Tekeda Alemu said: “This has been a very fantastic experience. One lesson that was very clear is that there is a clear connection between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Jewish people. This cannot be ignored.”

The number of participants in these trips has grown from nine ambassadors in 2016, to 14 in 2017 and to some 40 on the current trip.

Among those participating this year are the UN ambassadors from Serbia, Jamaica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Liberia, Ukraine, Uganda, Slovenia, Malta, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is currently on the 15-member UN Security Council; Slovenia and Malta are among the EU countries who consistently vote against Israel at the UN and are among its greatest critics inside the EU; and Mozambique has an abominable voting record on Israel in the world body.

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Danon would not provide a full list of the ambassadors on the trip, explaining that some had asked that their names not be made public until they return to New York. He said that none of the ambassadors were from a Muslim country.

Without mentioning names, Danon said he has seen a change in voting patterns at the UN by countries whose ambassadors have come on these trips in the past.

Fifteen of the ambassadors joined Danon in the March of the Living in Poland on Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, and most of them then continued on to Israel, where they were joined by another 30 ambassadors.

Danon said that since he often speaks at the UN about how Jewish history compels Israel to take threats of destruction seriously, going to the concentration camps in Poland illustrated this in a powerful way for the ambassadors.

This was the first time, he said, that UN ambassadors had participated in a March of the Living.

The delegation was co-sponsored by the Foreign Ministry, the March of the Living and the American Zionist Movement.

The group met Jerusalem Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Monday and, in addition to touring the City of David, also visited the Western Wall.

They are scheduled to go south on Tuesday, meeting residents of Kfar Aza near the border with Gaza – close to where a terror tunnel was destroyed in recent days; go into one of the neutralized tunnels; and get a briefing by security officials on the situation regarding the Gaza fence.

This is particularly important, Danon said, since the weekly events on the Gaza border are likely to be discussed in the near future in both the Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

On Wednesday they will visit several locations, such as Ma’aleh Adumim, which is beyond the Green Line.

Danon said that while the visit was not part of Israel’s long-shot campaign to get elected to the UN Security Council for the first time ever this summer, some are putting that spin on the trip.

Israel has done little to actively promote its candidacy, vying with Germany and Belgium for a two-year seat on the council beginning in 2019, as a representative of the UN’s Western European and Others Group (WEOG).

Israel, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is one of the “others,” being culturally, historically or politically related to Western Europe, if not geographically proximate.

On Wednesday they will visit several locations, such as Ma’aleh Adumim, which is beyond the Green Line.

The delegation is scheduled to meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.

Danon said that while the visit was not part of Israel’s long-shot campaign to get elected to the UN Security Council for the first time ever this summer, some are putting that spin on the trip.

Israel has done little to actively promote its candidacy, vying with Germany and Belgium for a two-year seat on the council beginning in 2019, as a representative of the UN’s Western European and Others Group (WEOG). Israel, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is one of the “others,” being culturally, historically or politically related to Western Europe, if not geographically proximate.

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