Historic Day for Israel at the UN

On Monday 13th June history was made as Israel won an election to chair the United Nations' Legal Committee. It is the first time that Israel will head one of the six permanent UN committees, and goes against the recent flow of negative UN declarations regarding Israel.

Israel's Ambassador to the UN

Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN said:

"I am proud to be the first Israeli elected to this position … Israel is a world leader in international law and in fighting terrorism … We are pleased to have the opportunity to share our knowledge with the countries of the world."

The Legal Committee deals with the UN’s activities related to international law and coordinates its fight against terrorism.

Normally the person who chairs one of the UN’s main committees is decided on a rotational basis and would be confirmed without need for a vote. However, on Monday Yemen challenged Israel’s nomination and demanded that a vote be held.

Israel won that vote with a majority of 109 out of 175, whilst Sweden was second with 10 votes. But that majority did not see an end to controversy over the appointment.

Arab representatives criticised the election Danny Danon, with Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour saying he was divisive and unworthy of the task. Yemen's UN ambassador went as far as to send a message to all member states to protest the election of the Israeli ambassador.

Then on Tuesday the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry said the appointment of Israel as the head of an UN legal committee is a slap for international law. Their statement said that the ministry was looking at this measure with ‘deep concern’.