Daily Israel Report

Ex-UN Envoy: Livni Chose Me Because I'm Female

Former ambassador to the UN Gabriella Shalev admits Tzipi Livni favored her for the post despite her inexperience, 'because I am a woman'.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/4/2014, 10:19 PM

Gabriella Shalev
Gabriella Shalev
Flash 90

Israel's former ambassador to the UN, Prof. Gabriella Shalev, admitted in a recent political conference at the Van Leer Institute that then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni selected her for the position because she is a woman.

Speaking at a conference dedicated to promoting UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Shalev said: “I became an ambassador by circumstance. While all my mature life I was in academia, in Hebrew U and later on in a private college, and I'm back now to the Israeli academia, except for those two years as the Israeli ambassador, I was never ever involved in neither politics nor diplomacy, other than the politics and diplomacy that is so much required in the academic world, as you all know.

"Let me say that I was chosen for this very challenging role as Israeli ambassador by a woman, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni. I was chosen because I am a woman. Indeed, as Prof. Chazan mentioned, I was Israel's first and so far also last female ambassador to the UN, after thirteen male ambassadors.

"I believe that the idea behind choosing a woman to represent Israel in the global arena was to change the prevalent image of Israel as a macho, militaristic, belligerent state,” she explained.

"One important issue that I was involved in as Israel's ambassador to the UN was women and gender issues. I insisted on participating and speaking twice in the annual Women and Security debates in the Security Council... In the spirit of the Security Council debates, I am sure that you know that [...] Israel amended the Women's Equal Rights Law to mandate that the Israeli government include women in any group that is appointed to peacebuilding negotiations. And indeed, if and when these negotiations will resume, Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni will be conducting these negotiations for the Israeli government.”

UNSC Resolution 1325 calls for women to be included in state decisionmaking fora, and especially to peace negotiation teams. Israel is the only country to have legislated that recommendation into a binding law. The UN resolution and the Israeli law appear to have been largely intended to pressure the Israeli government into including women with a so-called "gender perspective" on geopolitical issues to negotiating teams, and Shalev's statement implies that it is at least one of the reasons that Livni became head of the Israeli negotiating team. 

Naomi Chazan, former president of the New Israel Fund, is also a prominent member in the UN-affiliated International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace. She presided over the Van Leer Institute conference and is the dominant figure behind the campaign for implementing UNSC 1325 in Israel.

The idea that women are natural peacemakers appears to ignore the fact that women vote for both right wing and left wing parties, and that some women do not believe in a "peace process" with the Palestinians at all.

Shalev quit her UN job after just two years in office.