Collette Avital, the head of the Israel Holocaust Survivors Organization, former Knesset member and a former Israeli diplomat in the U.S. and Europe, has been chosen as head of the Socialist International, the world organization of social democrat political parties. Avital, a career-long member of the Labor Party, was elected unanimously at a Socialist International meeting in Lisbon over the weekend.
Avital was Israeli ambassador to Portugal from 1988 until 1992, and was Israel's Consul General in New York City between 1992 and 1996. Upon returning to Israel, she was appointed Deputy Director in Charge of Western Europe, the third most important position in the ministry. She first ran for the Knesset in 1999, taking the seat vacated by MK Matan Vilnai, who resigned from the Knesset after being appointed Minister of Science. She served in the Knesset until 2009.
In 2007, she ran for President of Israel against Reuven Rivlin and Shimon Peres, dropping out of the race to support Peres.
The Socialist International includes parties from 180 countries, among them the British Labor Party, the Social Democrat party of the U.S., the French Socialist Party, the German SPD, and Israel's Labor and Meretz parties. The group also includes Pakistan's social democratic movement, as well as parties from Turkey, and the Fatah terror group. The latter two are non-voting observers.