In boost for Nauert, Israeli ambassador to UN Danny Danon announces he is staying put

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Israeli ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon announced Saturday that he is staying on in his post despite upcoming domestic elections -- a move that is likely a boost to Heather Nauert, President Trump's pick to be the next U.S. ambassador.

Some Israeli media outlets reported last week that Danon was standing down as Israel’s ambassador to run in party primaries ahead of elections in Israel in April, but Danon’s office called the reports incorrect and said that he would announce his intentions after a vote in Israel's parliament -- the Knesset.

On Saturday, he announced that he will continue in his role, and will therefore not participate in the upcoming Knesset elections.

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“The role of Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. is one of great responsibility, and I will continue to strengthen Israel’s standing during this trying time,” he said in a statement.

Danon has been a vocally pro-American force in New York, and has taken a combative approach to representing Israel at the U.N. In a 2016 speech at the U.N. Security Council, he ended up in a shouting match with Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour.

“You pay the families of the terrorists, you are glorifying terrorists, shame on you for doing that,” he yelled at Mansour.

His time at Turtle Bay has largely coincided with that of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, with whom he has joined in aggressively tackling anti-Israel bias at the U.N.

This month, after a U.S. resolution condemning Hamas terror attacks failed in the General Assembly, Danon ripped into those countries who voted against the resolution.

“You should be ashamed of yourselves, wait until you have to deal with terrorism in your own countries," he told the chamber. "Your silence in the face of evil reveals your true colors."

Both Haley and Danon have accused the U.N. of repeatedly condemning Israel, while ignoring human rights violations and terrorist acts by Palestinian militant groups. This has sometimes led Danon to adopt some unorthodox tactics to draw attention to Israel’s plight.

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In August, he opened up an art exhibit in the corridors of U.N. headquarters in New York showing the scenes of devastation caused by flaming kites -- often bearing swastikas -- to Israeli land, and invited U.N. ambassadors to see it for themselves.

“No one will speak about it. That's what I feel in the Security Council, in the General Assembly, so we set up this exhibition here to allow ambassadors to understand it,” Danon told Fox News, adding that he asks ambassadors who visit what they would do if 7,000 acres of their homeland were set on fire by terrorists.

“I ask them, ‘What would you do if this happened in your country?’”

Danon has also welcomed the tougher approach brought by Haley to the U.N. After she announced her departure, he wrote an op-ed for Fox News in which he called Haley “a voice of moral clarity” who he said “helped guide the U.N. towards a more just tomorrow.”

The decision for Danon to stay on at the U.N. is also likely a boost for Nauert, Trump’s pick to succeed Haley. While Trump’s decision to nominate the State Department spokeswoman and a former Fox News journalist was greeted by skepticism by Democrats and liberal media outlets, as well as silence from some ambassadors, Danon was first to welcome Nauert, noting her pro-Israel stance.

"Ms. Nauert has stood by the State of Israel in her previous positions, and I have no doubt that the cooperation between our two countries will continue to strengthen as ambassador to the U.N.," Danon said.

Nauert is still to be confirmed by the Senate, and a date for her confirmation hearings have not yet been announced.

The U.S. mission to the U.N. was unable to comment on Danon's decision to remain in his post due to the partial government shutdown in Washington D.C.

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Danon, meanwhile, is already carrying on with plans of pushing current U.N. ambassadors to embrace a pro-Israel stance. His office announced that in January, he will lead a delegation of 40 U.N. ambassadors to visit Israel, including Israel’s northern border.