Israel’s new ambassador to the UN, Prof. Gavriela Shalev, is a relative unknown in both international and Israeli politics. Appointed last summer by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and approved by the government over the objections of Israel’s prime minister, who wanted his own candidate for the post, Shalev was noted as a legal scholar and as Israel’s first woman to fill the post. American Jewish leaders were troubled by the appointment of someone whom they didn’t know. But none of the feathers ruffled compare with those ruffled by the current president of the UN General Assembly, Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a former official in the Sandanista government in Nicaragua.
This past September, after D’Escoto refused to condemn Iran’s president for calling for Israel’s destruction, Shalev called him an “Israel hater.” Now their clash has entered round 2. D’Escoto has called her attacks on him “slander,” after Shalev accused him of conspiring to prevent her from addressing the GA about human rights.
For her part, Shalev has not remained silent. “The role of the President of the General Assembly should be to unite the international community and promote shared interests and values,” she said in a statement. “However, since his first days as president of the General Assembly, Mr. D’Escoto has been divisive and controversial, abusing his position.”
This will play well for the ailing Kadima party in Israel, where the UN is overwhelmingly viewed with suspicion. But it’s always fun to watch Israelis do away with diplomatic niceties in forums as antagonistic as the General Assembly.