President Rivlin: Livni's UN Appointment Could Be a Blessing for Israel

The UN chief, meanwhile, says he sees no reason for the U.S. to block former Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad's appointment: 'He is right person for the job'

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni at the annual INSS conference, January 24, 2017.
Moti Milrod

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday voiced support for the impending appointment of Knesset Member Tzipi Livni for a senior position at the United Nations. 

Speaking at a conference held in Jerusalem by the Besheva newspaper, Rivlin said that Livni's appointment as a United Nations undersecretary-general would be advantageous to Israel.

"It's true that we have been rivals for years, but I have never doubted her capabilities and skills," he said. "Especially as we feel the need to reconnect the UN to Israel's challenges and needs, Livni's appointment could be a blessing for Israel."

Haaretz reported on Sunday that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered Livni the position of an under-secretary general. She would be the first Israeli to serve in that position if she accepts, though the appointment ultimately depends on the UN Security Council's approval.

The news emerged shortly after the U.S. said it would block the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the head of the UN mission to Libya. 

On Monday, Guterres said Fayyad was the "right person" for the job.

Addressing a summit in Dubai, Guterres said: "I believe he is the right person for the right job at the right moment... And I think it is a loss for the Libyan peace process and for the Libyan people that I am not able to appoint him."

Right-wing support for Livni 

Rivlin's remarks on Monday joined a chorus of right-wing Israeli politicians coming out in support of Livni's UN appointment.

In a tweet, MK Betzalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) said Sunday that “Livni in a senior UN position is a wonderful idea. As a Zionist patriot with experience, it’s certain that she’ll do great work. Enough already with the automatic cataloging of right-left.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of Smotrich’s party, indicated that she also supported the appointment by answering Smotrich with “You’re right.”

Likud Minister Yisrael Katz also welcomed Livni’s possible appointment. In an interview with Army Radio, Katz said, “If Livni can get involved in UN activity, I personally see that as positive.”

Dani Dayan, a former settler leader and now Israel’s consul-general in New York, said: “I’d be very happy if Tzipi Livni would be appointed to a senior international position. It would be an honor and great service to the State of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Fayyad's appointment as well as the possible appointment of an Israeli to a UN post at Sunday’s cabinet meeting without mentioning Livni by name. 

“A few days ago I was informed of the possible appointment of Salam Fayyad to a UN position and I said it was about time that there was reciprocity in the relationship of the UN to Israel and that they can’t keep giving free gifts to the Palestinian side all the time,” he said. “It’s about time that they give status and appointments to the Israeli side. In the event that it’s a suitable appointment, we will consider it.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev was the only one to publicly oppose the appointment. Immediately after Netanyahu’s remarks, she said, “There has to be a representative of the State of Israel; I’m not sure this is the proper and appropriate appointment.”

Jonathan Lis contributed reporting.