Deputy FM Ze'ev Elkin and UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin and UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. Photo by Courtesy
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Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) and Israel's ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor have launched a joint initiative to get the United Nations to recognize the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur as an official UN holiday.

The two spoke with UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on Monday, requesting international recognition for the importance of the holiday to Jews, and to allow UN employees to take the day off without it being considered a vacation day. Eliasson said the matter would be examined.

There are currently 10 formal "UN holidays," among them the Muslim holidays of Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha. UN officers throughout the world are closed on these two holidays, as was determined during the UN General Assembly in 1996.

Elkin also met Monday with UNGA President John W. Ash and other dignitaries, emphasizing that Israel seeks to increase its involvement in UN institutions. Elkin said Israel wants to make it clear to the world that it can contribute in the UN on issues like infrastructure, water, technology and agriculture, and is not characterized only be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to take to the podium for the final address of the 68th UNGA.