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Daniel Gordis

Making Sense of Israel's Odd UN Appointment

A hawkish young politician, sent to do diplomacy? There must be some explanation.
Danny Danon's trying a very different role.

Danny Danon's trying a very different role.

Photographer: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

One of the most meteoric figures in Israeli politics soared higher on Friday, when the prime minister promoted Danny Danon from minister of science to be Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations. The question is why.

In his mere six years in the Knesset, Danon established himself as the Likud’s right-flank arch-critic of Netanyahu. When Netanyahu publicly endorsed the two-state solution in his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech, Danon retorted that supporters of a peace deal have no place in the Likud, Israel’s ruling party (ironically, the party created by Menachem Begin, who signed a peace treaty with Egypt). He opposes the creation of a Palestinian state. He has endorsed Israel’s annexing most of the West Bank and suggested that Israel cut off electricity and water supplies to Gaza. Danon’s critique of Netanyahu’s conduct of last summer’s war was so vociferous that Netanyahu summarily fired him from his position as deputy defense minister.