Ambassador Gilad Erdan
Ambassador Gilad ErdanArie Leib Abrams

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, who will take part in the Jerusalem Conference in New York this coming Sunday, told Asaf Mishnayot of the Besheva newspaper in an interview, that the Americans are making a “serious mistake” by not having yet invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Washington.

"This is without a doubt problematic. This is a serious mistake by the Americans in my eyes. This is not the way to behave between friends, even when they disagree on issues. We are one of the closest allies the Americans have. There are always disputes, even within a family, but in the end everyone gets together at the holiday table. The visibility of such a situation has great importance," said Erdan.

At the same time, he stressed that the fact that Netanyahu has not yet been invited to the White House has not had an effect on the cooperation between Israel and the US.

"No. I don't feel any negative effect of this negative reality. I work very closely with the US Ambassador to the United Nations on all issues, including the areas where we need their veto in the United Nations. They helped us a lot in the Nakba Day event and made sure that other senior countries did not come to this event. They participated with me in the event we held at the United Nations to present Israel's cyber capabilities, and only recently the largest military exercise ever held between the countries took place. I feel that our cooperation is only getting stronger, and we will get the seal of approval for this when Israel gets an exemption from visas, which is a move that I had the honor to start and initiate when I also served as Ambassador to the United States."

Erdan was asked whether the judicial reform being promoted by the government, and which the US has expressed opposition to, has come up in his talks with other UN ambassadors.

"The issue does not come up at all, and it has nothing to do with our activity at the UN. Someone expressed interest here and there, but it didn't suddenly become an issue that we have to deal with here. It should also be remembered that most of the countries in the UN are not democratic countries at all. I am not going into arguments now about whether the reform will harm Israeli democracy or not, but am just saying that it is really not a factor in the UN. After all, the Palestinians have had an automatic majority against us in the UN for years. Does this make them a democracy? Of course not, there have been no elections there for 18 years," he said.

"The level of democratization in the country has no effect in the UN. In the end, there are 193 countries in the UN, and each of them has its own interests. This is what plays a role in the international arena. Even the ambassadors I bring to Israel, and only a week and a half ago there was a delegation of ten ambassadors, did not ask about it at all," added Erdan.

He was then asked about Israeli ambassadors around the world, such as Yael German in France or Asaf Zamir who served as Israel’s Consul General in New York, resigning from their posts in protest of the government’s policy, and how that affects the government’s position.

"Here I will tell you something that may not sound popular, but it is the truth. It was their duty, and I would also have acted the same way if I thought the way they did. An ambassador cannot represent his country and the policies promoted by the elected government if he does not believe in these policies. It is true both for an ambassador who is a political appointment as well as for an ambassador who is a professional appointment that comes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” replied Erdan.

“I was also an ambassador during the days of a government from the other side of the map, and if they told me that they were changing the entire Israeli policy so that I would have to support the nuclear deal or the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, I would have resigned and made my reasoning for it public,” he added.

Asked about the reports that the US and Iran could reach a new nuclear deal, under which the US will lift some of the sanctions imposed on Iran when former President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, Erdan said these reports should not be taken lightly.

"Unfortunately, this is not a scenario that is out of touch with reality,” he said. “It is very unfortunate, because today there is no longer an iota of doubt among anyone in the West that Iran is not complying with the agreement, has not complied with the agreement and has no interest in doing so in the future. You cannot trust agreements with it and the Ayatollah regime has no interest in being a part of the family of nations. In Israel there is a complete consensus that the only way to stop Iran is not through agreements but rather through a credible military threat, along with political isolation and crippling sanctions."

Erdan noted that when Prime Minister Netanyahu met with President Biden two years ago, the Iranian nuclear issue was a central part of the conversation.

“The President fully understands the reality and Israel’s concerns, and he understands that if Iran becomes a nuclear threshold state, Israel will have to act militarily, and he respects that," the Ambassador said and, when asked whether Biden continues to respect Israel’s freedom to take action, replied, “Yes, even today.”

Commenting on the Celebrate Israel Parade, which will take place in New York on Sunday along with the Jerusalem Conference, Erdan said the parade is a show of Israel's power in one of the most important cities in the world.

"New York was and remains the capital of the Jewish people outside of Israel. The largest concentration of Jews in the world outside of Israel is here. The legislators, the mayors and the governor of New York are aware of this, so it is very important that this event takes place,” he said.

“I also see how the Jewish schools join the effort and strengthen the event, even though it takes place on a Sunday, which is a day off. I really hope we'll see large crowds of people at the parade. The more participants there are, the more it will encourage powerful elements to support Israel."

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)