WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ron Prosor, Israel's new ambassador to the United Nations, finished his first day in the job last Wednesday. He's got some busy months ahead, with the UN vote on the establishment of a Palestinian state expected in September.
Did you hear the word September much on your first day?
"I don't need to hear it from others. As far as we're concerned, the September vote is at the center of the delegation's life. This is really my first day here, walking the hallways, and the first meetings - at the UN secretariat and later with other ambassadors. The mission regarding the unilateral declaration is one heck of a challenge, but I believe the chances of the declaration to succeed are actually very small. It will only bring things back and take nothing forward; I say that as the director general of the Foreign Ministry during the disengagement from Gaza. Unilateral moves are not constructive."
How optimistic are you? Isn't there automatically a majority against Israel at the UN?
"That there's an automatic majority against us is a matter of math, and you don't need a PhD in math to know that. You can see it in the Commission on Human Rights and in every forum, but there's still a moral minority of states and if the work is done right they can be recruited for something useful."
We've heard terms like a political tsunami. How would you define it?
"It's a matter of character. There's an attempt here to change the rules of the game. We should work without becoming hysterical and to do something which I really believe in - taking the sides to direct negotiations."
The Americans say there's hardly a month to produce an alternative to that vote. Does Israel have time to act?
"There's time to act and we shouldn't give up."
Do we really have a plan to cope with September?
"This is about joint activity: Working in the headquarters in Jerusalem, working in different capitals, and in the UN - which is the only arena where you can talk to all the countries. We are mapping the countries Israel works with and are finding the right leverage to persuade them in nearly every continent that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state won't be useful for bringing peace."
Every Israeli ambassador to the UN takes office with the intention of promoting the positive things about Israel and then becomes mired in crises. How hopeful are you?
"Every Israeli ambassador knows it all too well - there are plans for what we want to do and then there are things happening in the Middle East, and every day is different. It doesn't change the fact that we must present to the world the Israel beyond the conflict. But September, and the processes of delegitimization and demonization, are the top priority. I'm really proud to represent Israel and the Jewish people in this arena, it's a great privilege."
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