Israeli ambassador to UN Danon looks back on past five years of service

Danon noted that of the 193 member states, Israel holds formal relations with 160 and even more behind closed doors.

US AMBASSADOR to the UN Nikki Haley speaks with Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon before a Security Council vote on an Arab-backed resolution for protection of Palestinian civilians, at the UN headquarters on Friday. (photo credit: SHANNON STAPLETON/ REUTERS)
US AMBASSADOR to the UN Nikki Haley speaks with Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon before a Security Council vote on an Arab-backed resolution for protection of Palestinian civilians, at the UN headquarters on Friday.
(photo credit: SHANNON STAPLETON/ REUTERS)
Israel's outgoing Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon sat down with Matthew Bronfman, chairman of the International Steering Committee of Limmud FSU, and Michal Grayevsky, president of global media company JCS International to reflect on his past five years of service, representing Israel within the international body.
During the interview, Danon, a former MK and deputy defense minister, reviewed the specific role he played as the Israeli representative in New York, which he noted was mainly to hold off the Iranian government from becoming a "promoter of instability" within the international forum.
“Diplomacy is quiet and long term. Politicians want credit immediately for what they do, while diplomats should never take credit," Danon said, connecting his position at the UN to diplomacy in the Knesset. "In the Knesset, people say negative things about you behind closed doors while in public they are nice to you; in contrast, in the UN, countries actually admire Israel quietly, while condemning it in public.”
Danon noted that of the UN's 193 member states, Israel holds formal relations with 160 and even more behind closed doors.
“I have encouraged the leaders of these countries to stop hiding and publicly declare their relations with Israel," Danon added.
He noted that many of the UN diplomats who formally denounce or openly speak out against Israel actually voted for him to head the UN legal counsel, indirectly honoring him with the coveted position of being the first Israeli ambassador to lead a UN committee.
“Future ambassadors to the UN can aspire to something similar," he said.
Referring back to Danon's focusing on Iran at the UN over the past five years, he noted that Israel is concerned with the Islamic Republic but does not necessarily fear it, while Gulf states – many of whom denounce formal relations with Israel – "are fearful" of the threat Iran poses, seated within the international council.
Furthermore, Danon spoke about Israel's close relations with the United States being a major factor in Israel's prominent position within the UN, noting that “as long as we have the support of the US in the UN Security Council, we can be relaxed.”

WHEN PROMPTED in the interview, Danon began to discuss Israel's plans to annex 30% of the West Bank and the entire Jordan Valley, as well as the pending investigation in the International Criminal Court.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes committed in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Bensouda plans to examine IDF activity along the Gaza border since the start of the “Great March of Return” in March 2018.
Separately, Bensouda wrote that she has reason to believe that the actions of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem can be considered as the war crime of transferring a civilian population into occupied territory. However, she clarified that she is only examining war crime claims dating back no further than June 13, 2014.
With regard to annexation, Danon said that Israel needs to stand on its own two feet and make the decision that is best for the nation, not what it believes will go over more favorably on the international stage – noting that many who speak openly about the negatives of annexation don't understand the reasoning or the full situation behind it.
“You cannot annex what is yours,” Danon said. “We are extending Israeli sovereignty, in just the same way that Menachem Begin, in 1981, passed a law in the Knesset to advance Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. From whom would we be annexing parts of the West Bank?”
While he categorically stated his position, he did note the "dispute with the Palestinians" and added that he welcomes talks to resolve the ongoing conflict, but that Israel needs to make a decision and deal with the outcry later on.
“Most of the world is not dealing with the Middle East today,” Danon said. “Countries are busy with the corona[virus] pandemic and the related economic crisis. [Israel] must not make decisions based on what, if or whether now is the right timing. The government must decide what it wants to achieve.”
“It must not be done in the immediate lead up to or first months after the November presidential elections in the US,” Danon added.
He also rejected the notion that the voices of opposition, stemming from the Jewish Diaspora, should even be considered by the Israeli government when decided if and when to annex the West Bank.
“World Jewry must respect Israeli democracy and our processes, even if they don’t agree with what we are doing," he concluded.