WASHINGTON –Professor Gabriela Shalev presented her diplomatic credentials to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, becoming the first woman to serve as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.
The 67-year-old Shalev was rector of the Ono Academic College and has also served as chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, as a member of the Jewish Agency's Board of Trustees and a member of the committee for formulating ethics of cabinet members.
But despite the cordial atmosphere at the ceremony, the new ambassador launched headfirst into her new role, expressing Israel's concerns over the rearmament of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon and the Iranian nuclear program.
Prof. Shalev with Ban at the UN (Photo: Ilan Tennenbaum)
Shalev told Ban that while she was appointed ambassador on behalf of the State of Israel, she sees herself as representing the Jewish Diaspora as well.
Secretary-General Ban, viewed as understanding of Israel's situation in the UN, pledged his continued cooperation with Israel's diplomatic delegation and assured Shalev Israel would be treated equitably in the 192-nation organization, where Muslim and third-world countries are the majority.
Ban, who has met on numerous occasions with leading Israeli figures both in his capacity as minister of foreign affairs for South Korea as well as his current position, spoke of his appreciation of the Jewish
people and Israeli leaders.
"As a woman, a professor and above all as a proud Israeli, I am happy for the opportunity given me to contribute to the state in the complex international arena of the United Nations," Shalev said in a statement.
"With the help of a small but high-quality delegation, I will work on a wide spectrum of issues in the fields of technological development, science and agriculture, and the rights of women and children, while at the same time caring for political and security issues."