WASHINGTON -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that Israel’s next ambassador to the United Nations will be Danny Danon, an outspoken opponent of a two-state solution.
"The UN platform is very important at this time, and I'm sure Danny will fight with all his might to present the truth in the international arena," Netanyahu said, as reported by Haaretz.
Danon's appointment comes just over a month ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. The French have floated the idea of introducing a resolution to kick-start the process of making Palestine an independent state.
In the past, the U.S. has made it clear that it would veto Palestinian statehood measures at the U.N., insisting that statehood should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian government. But in March, Netanyahu made a pre-election promise that he would not allow for the creation of a Palestinian state if he remained in office. Though he has since walked back on his statement, the Obama administration has indicated that it will re-evaluate the best path forward for the peace process.
Danon, Israel’s current science minister and a member of Parliament in Netanyahu’s Likud party, strongly opposes Palestinian statehood and regrets that Israel failed to annex parts of the West Bank in 1967 -- “But it’s not too late,” he told The Times of Israel in 2014. In 2011, he described Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East as one of "grovelling to the Palestinians."
The New Republic once called Danon “The Ted Cruz of Israel,” and quoted an unnamed Israeli politician saying of Danon, "Whenever I see him representing my views, I am a little bit embarrassed."
In 2013, Danon told the Times of Israel that the Likud party would block the creation of a Palestinian state, even as Netanyahu, the party’s head, was opening the door for negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu’s office then took what the paper called the “highly unusual step of contacting the Times of Israel during Shabbat” to distance the prime minister from Danon’s remarks.
The following year, Netanyahu fired Danon from his position as deputy defense minister for blasting the prime minister's decision to sign a ceasefire with Hamas during the Gaza War. "Netanyahu grovelled in front of Abu Mazen,” Danon said last July, referring to Abbas.
The Israeli opposition criticized Netanyahu's decision to bring Danon back into a position of prominence, calling it a desperate move to solidify loyalty within his increasingly hawkish base. Tzipi Livni, a member of the opposition in the Israeli government and a former peace talks negotiator, accused Netanyahu on Friday of risking Israeli interests in order to placate members of his party.
Danon’s appointment to New York comes five months after Netanyahu assigned Interior Minister Silvan Shalom to the vacant post of lead negotiator with the Palestinians, should peace talks resume. Shalom has also publicly opposed the creation of a Palestinian state.