Netanyahu Appoints Party Rival Danon as Israel’s UN Ambassador

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Danny Danon, a rival within his Likud party who opposes Palestinian statehood, to become the country’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Danon, 44, will leave his cabinet post as minister of science, technology and space, to replace Ron Prosor in one of Israel’s most visible diplomatic jobs. Netanyahu fired Danon as deputy defense minister after he criticized government decisions during last year’s military conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Danon accepted the “important challenge that I offered him,” Netanyahu said on Friday in an e-mailed statement from his office in Jerusalem. “The UN podium is important at this moment and I’m convinced Danny will fight with all his strength to present the truth in the international arena.”

The UN General Assembly meeting in New York next month promises to become a central battleground in Netanyahu’s fight with U.S. President Barack Obama over last month’s deal to limit Iran’s nuclear development, which Israel opposes.

It was as UN ambassador 30 years ago that the prime minister first leapt to political prominence, vigorously defending Israel against international criticism following its war with Lebanon.

In the middle of last year’s war against Hamas fighters in Gaza, Danon had publicly attacked Netanyahu for considering an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire, and said Israel shouldn’t stop until it destroyed the militant group.

Danon thanked Netanyahu for “the trust placed in me,” and said in a statement he will do “everything I can to represent the just positions of the state of Israel.”

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