Netanyahu Appoints Likud Minister Gilad Erdan as Israel's Ambassador to Both U.S., UN

Current public security minister known for anti-BDS campaign will take over for both Ron Dermer and Danny Danon, as Netanyahu readies portfolio reshuffle in new government

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Gilad Erdan outside a cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, November 17, 2019.
Gilad Erdan outside a cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, November 17, 2019.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan will take on the post of Israel's Ambassador to both the United States and the United Nations, as Netanyahu draws up his next government, to be sworn in on Thursday.

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Erdan sought to keep his position as public security minister in the new government, but Netanyahu intends to appoint either Justice Minister Amir Ohana or Culture Minister Miri Regev instead. After Erdan realized many Likud lawmakers are vying for relatively few government portfolios in the new government, he decided to accept Netanyahu's proposal rather than take on a ministry he views as less significant.

"I am proud and moved by the privilege of struggling for the justice of our cause in the international arena and defending Israel in the face of the expected challenges in the coming years," Erdan said.

Erdan, who was fourth on the Likud list in the last election and has been in the Knesset since 2003, will be replacing both Ron Dermer, the current U.S.-born ambassador to the United States, and Danny Danon, permanent representative to the UN since 2015.

Dermer, who has had a prominent role in the relationship between the Trump White House and the Israeli administration, made several demands in the recent past to be relieved of his duties for family reasons, but remained at his job due to the unprecedented period of political instability in Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Ambassador Ron Dermer meet with National Security Advisor John Bolton and Ambassador David Friedman in Jerusalem, January 7, 2019.Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy in Israel

Danon congratulated his successor on Monday night, tweeting that "after five years... representing the State of Israel and the Jewish people to the nations of the world, I can attest that this is a challenging and fascinating role."

Erdan will continue to serve as a minister in the government until his official appointment as ambassador. He will take up his post at the UN as soon as the new Israeli government, to be sworn in on Thursday, approves his nomination. He will likely take over from Dermer only after the U.S. presidential election in November. 

The simultaneous appointment to both Washington and New York is rare. However, according to the coalition deal, Benny Gantz will be able to appoint a new ambassador to Washington when he takes over from Netanyahu as prime minister. If and when that happens, Erdan will stay on as ambassador to UN.

Erdan previously served as the Minister of Environmental Protection, Minister of Interior Affairs, Home Front Affairs Minister and was Minister of Communications during Netanyahu's Walla-Bezeq affair for which he is indicted in corruption case 4000.

As strategic affairs minister, he worked with the Mossad in its wide-ranging campaign against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Among other things, he promoted the law that prevents boycott supporters from entering Israel.

Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during a Security Council meeting, February 11, 2020.Credit: Seth Wenig/AP

In Erdan's current role overseeing the police, he has increased operations in East Jerusalem, shuttering soccer tournaments, mother's day events and last month a coronavirus testing clinic, because of their ties to the Palestinian Authority. He has been criticized for failing to address the rise in organized crime in the Arab community, and last year argued that Arab culture is inherently violent.

During the coronavirus crisis, he pushed for the government to act to deduct fines given to asylum seekers from compulsory monthly deposits taken from their monthly pay on top of income tax.

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