Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has appointed Gabriela Shalev, currently the rector of the Ono Academic College and an expert in contract law, as ambassador to the United Nations. Shalev will replace Dan Gillerman, who has served in that post for the last five-and-a-half years. A statement the Foreign Ministry put out Tuesday announcing the appointment said it was made jointly by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Livni. Traditionally the prime minister has had the final say in the appointment of the ambassador to Washington, with the foreign minister selecting the envoy to Turtle Bay. The appointment has to be approved by the government. Shalev would be Israel's first woman ambassador to the UN. One Foreign Ministry official said the appointment of Shalev, who is relatively unknown outside the legal academic community, raised some eyebrows inside the ministry. At the same time, the official said it had been clear for weeks that Livni was interested in appointing a woman to the position, and there had been reports in recent weeks that she had offered the job to Education Minister Yuli Tamir and television journalist Ilana Dayan, who both turned it down. "Appointing a woman helps Livni politically," the official said. "She is thinking of her constituency, and that she can say that she has promoted women." The official said Livni had appointed more women to key positions in the Foreign Ministry than her predecessor, and that there were now four female deputy directors-general in the ministry, as opposed to two in the past. In the same vein, the official said, Livni tries to appoint women ambassadors where possible. One diplomatic official praised the appointment, saying that selecting women for high-profile posts such as these makes Israel appear to be the "modern, liberal" society it is, an image Israel wants to promote. Foreign Ministry officials said there was little surprise in the ministry that Livni had decided to go outside the ministry for a candidate, saying the last time a Foreign Ministry diplomat was appointed to that post was in the early 1970s. The leading candidate for the job inside the ministry was veteran diplomat Yoss Gal. Prior to her position at Kiryat Ono, Shalev was a professor of contract law at Hebrew University and has served as a visiting professor at numerous universities abroad, including Boston College, Temple University, Glasgow Law School and Toronto University. She has served as deputy to the chairman of the Israel Broadcast Authority and served on numerous government committees and directorates.