Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman was elected as one of the 21 vice-presidents of the 60th UN General Assembly.

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom congratulated UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the members of the UN General Assembly for their support of the Israeli initiative to elect Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, to the position of Vice-President of the 60th UN General Assembly.

Minister Shalom reiterated that Israel will continue to work to normalize and improve Israel’s standing in the United Nations, until Israel enjoys a status equal to all other UN member states, including membership on the United Nations Security Council.

Last week the Foreign Minister met with UN Secretary General Annan, and discussed with him various ways of improving Israel’s standing the United Nations and the international arena.

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"Beyond the symbolic and perhaps even historic significance of the appointment, I will also be a member of the UN’s committee that determines the organization’s agenda," Ambassador Gillerman told Israel Radio. "I hope I will be able to influence UN decision-making, although it will not be an easy task."

Gillerman said the appointment reflects the international community’s acknowledgment of the changes occurring in the world and particularly in the Middle East. The appointment is also an expression of the world’s support for Israel’s peace efforts.

This will be the first time in 53 years that an Israeli has served as vice-president of the U.N. General Assembly. The last one to do so was Israeli envoy to the U.N. Abba Eban in 1952. Israel’s candidacy was put forward by the Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG).