New Israel Ambassador to UN Still Sees Hope for September

Haaretz speaks with newly appointed Ambassador Ron Prosor, who views the possible unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood in September as a challenge, but not an inevitability.

Ron Prosor, Israel's new Israeli ambassador to the UN, finished his first day on the job late Wednesday night, and as the September UN vote on the establishment of a Palestinian state approaches, it is safe to say his workdays aren't going to get any shorter.

The new ambassador spoke with Haaretz Wednesday and shared some of his impressions and plans as he assumes his new position.

Ron Prosor - Tess Scheflan
Tess Scheflan

Did you hear the word September a lot today?

I dont have to hear it from others – from our perspective, September now stands in the middle of our missions work. Its really my first day here, with going around the UN, the first meetings, and basically, the unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state is quite a challenge. But I believe that the chance of this act succeeding very small - it will only push things back and not forward. This is what I can tell from my experience as a Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the disengagement from Gaza. Unilateral steps are not constructive.

I dont think that an attempt to coerce things outside of the direct negotiations will bring peace – thats how you raise the expectations. And if nothing but the symbolic change happens on the ground – it can lead to violence. If someone wants to do anything positive, he should push for the direct negotiations. I hope that at least those countries that are genuinely interested to support the peace process, understand this.

Isnt there an automatic majority against Israel?

The fact that there is an automatic majority is a matter of math – you dont need a PhD in math for this. One can see it at the Human Rights Council and other forums. But there is still what I call the conscience minority of important countries, and I believe that with the right work, we can convince them to support something that will actually be helpful.

Does Israel really have a plan to prevent September from happening?

We are talking about joint work – in Jerusalem, in worlds capitals, and at the UN. We are mapping the countries almost on every continent and looking for the right leverages to convince them that a unilateral act wont bring peace. We are in the middle of this process, that goes on as we talk now.

Weve heard already terms such as diplomatic tsunami from Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Do you see the situation in such dramatic terms?

Its the matter of character. There is certainly an attempt to change the rules of the game. We need to work without hysteria, in a professional way. And we must do something that I am a big believer in – direct negotiations.

According to the US position, there is barely a month to do it.

There is time to act, we shouldnt give up.

Israeli politicians and diplomats have expresses an array of sentiments about the UN, for the most part negative because of the belief Israel is unfairly singled out there. How do you see this organization?

Its a great privilege to represent the State of Israel on this stage, and I see myself as another link in a row of those who did hard and good work before me, such as Danny (Gillerman) and Gabriella (Shalev). There is no need to reinvent the wheel, and one of the goals is to present the State of Israel with all it has to offer, besides the conflict.

Probably every new Israeli Ambassador to the UN has plans to promote good things Israel does – and then finds itself dealing with crisis after crisis.

Every Israeli Ambassador is familiar with this reality – there are plans we want to do, and there are things that are happening at the Middle East and its different every day. But it doesnt change the fact that we have to represent Israel to the world outside the conflict – healthcare, sustainable living, innovation – we have plenty of things to be proud of. But September, and the processes of delegitimisation and demonization of Israel, its our first priority. And I am really proud to represent the State of Israel and the Jewish people on this stage.