History made as Israel elected head of permanent UN committee for first time

Danon elected chairman of United Nations Legal Committee; Palestinians, NAM and OIC lobbying efforts fail; Danon: We will not allow dictatorships and anti-Israel countries to harm our standing in the international community.

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Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, was elected chairman of the United Nations Legal Committee Monday, making history as the first Israeli representative to the United Nations to be elected to a UN permanent Committee.

109 nations voted for Danon, opposition to his appointment made by the Palestinian representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, as well a the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran, the state serving currently as chair of the NAM reportedly circulated a “draft of a letter to UN member states filled with anti-Israel fabrications and calling to reject the Israeli candidacy” in lobbying efforts against Danon’s appointment.

Mansour stated following Danon’s appointment that “The Arab countries tried to prevent the Israeli representative’s election, because it does not sound reasonable that a country in violation of the law should head a legal committee… Israel’s stance is becoming more extreme every day, and it is turning its back towards any peace initiatives. Its goal is to expand the settlements and to provoke the international community.”

The Sixth Committee is one of the United Nations main committees that serve as a primary forum for legal questions for the UN General Assembly. The Committee deals with United Nations’ activities regarding international law, protocols of the Geneva Conventions and issues of global terrorism. The 71st session of the Committee is to focus on an array of issues, from “Measures to eliminate international terrorism” to “Administration of justice at the United Nations”.

Danon stated on his appointment to the Sixth Committee “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.” Addressing objection and efforts against Israel’s appointment to the Committee, Danon stated “We will not allow dictatorships and anti-Israel countries to harm our standing in the international community. Those who tried to block our appointment would be well advised to take note of the jurisdiction of this committee, as they have much to learn about international law. We are a full member of the UN and any attempt to deny us of our legal rights in this organization will be met with uncompromising rejection.”