Senior UN Diplomat: Israel Needs Recognizable, Capable Envoy Now More Than Ever

The next session of the UN General Assembly, which opens in September, will "almost certainly be unpleasant for Israel," a senior UN diplomat tells Haaretz.

The next session of the UN General Assembly, which opens in September, will "almost certainly be particularly unpleasant for Israel," a senior UN diplomat told Haaretz.

UN General Assembly
AP

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Friday that Meiron Reuven, Israel's ambassador to Columbia, will replace Israel's current representative at the UN Gabriela Shalev on September 1.

The senior UN diplomat questioned the wisdom of having a relatively unknown diplomat represent Israel at the UN.

"Israel needs at the UN today representatives who are known to the world and are capable of relaying messages and making contacts with ambassadors and representatives through private channels," the diplomat said.

Reuven, born in South Africa and a native English-speaker, has no experience in the United Nations. He has never served in Washington, D.C., or in a major European capital and has very little experience with Middle East regional issues.

"There are more than a few people in the Foreign Ministry who don't even know who he is," said one Foreign Ministry official.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly strongly opposed to the appointment of Reuven to the UN post.

Netanyahu learned of the appointment from news reports and was reportedly furious when he heard about it. The post of UN ambassador is traditionally considered a political appointment chosen jointly by the prime minister and foreign minister. The issue of Shalev's successor has been a cause of major friction between Netanyahu and Lieberman in recent months.

Since the appointment of Reuven is a temporary one, it does not require the approval of the cabinet nor of the Civil Service Commission.

Reuven's term at the UN is expected to last for only a few months, until a permanent UN envoy is named.