May 11, 2020 - World

New Israeli ambassador to serve dual role at UN and in Washington

Right-hand man. Erdan (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: Gali TIibbon/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that he is going to appoint Gilad Erdan, currently minister of internal security, as Israel’s new ambassador to the UN.

Why it matters: Erdan is also expected to replace Ron Dermer as ambassador to Washington following the 2020 U.S. election, and will serve in both posts at the same time. That dual role is almost unprecedented.

  • The only time a single ambassador has taken on both roles was in 1950 — two years after Israel was founded.
  • That was the legendary Abba Eban, who served in both posts until 1959.  
  • Very few countries in the world have one ambassador for both the U.S. and the UN, and most are small countries like Andorra or Pacific islands.
  • It is unclear how a single ambassador from Israel, which has massive interests both in Washington and in the UN, will be able to handle both jobs.

Driving the news: Erdan was appointed by Netanyahu as part of a reshuffle ahead of the swearing in of Israel's new government.

  • That reshuffle left Netanyahu with fewer cabinet posts to give to members of his Likud Party, and the solution was to appoint some as ambassadors.

Netanyahu's appointment will also bring Dermer's tenure in Washington to an end after seven years. He is one of Netanyahu's closest advisers and has become one of the most powerful ambassadors in Washington, due in part to his links to Jared Kushner and members of Trump's cabinet.

  • Dermer's relationship with Democrats in Congress is far less friendly. Many see him as a Republican political operative.   
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