Danny Danon, Nikki Haley to headline 'DiploTech' summit

Nikki Haley and Danny Danon, who recently served together as United Nations ambassadors representing the U.S. and Israel, respectively, are headlining a global virtual summit on Wednesday focusing on innovation and development in a post-coronavirus era. 

Other speakers include David Kabua, president of the Marshall Islands; Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo Vila; and E.P. Chet Greene, Antigua and Barbuda’s minister of foreign affairs, immigration and trade. 

Danon, who represented Israel at the U.N. from 2015 until earlier this year, told JI that his experiences in Turtle Bay inspired the initiative, which is aimed at connecting countries around the world with Israeli startups and entrepreneurs. In his work in New York and on diplomatic tours of Israel he led for his U.N. colleagues, Danon said he encountered great interest in Israel’s agriculture, technology and economic development.

“I understood the potential for us to create a dialogue and to build bridges on the platform of technology,” he explained. 

Danon will kick off the summit with a one-on-one conversation with Haley, with whom he developed a close relationship while serving together at the U.N.

The former Israeli ambassador said he is hopeful that Haley, who represented the United States at the U.N. from January 2017 to December 2018, will continue to speak out about Iran during the incoming Biden administration. 

Danon, who concluded his term in New York in July, expressed interest in returning to the Knesset on the Likud list if early elections are called next week, though he said he is working to convince party leaders to avoid such a situation. 

In the interview with JI, Danon criticized his former colleague, Gideon Sa’ar, who announced last week that he was leaving Likud to form a new right-wing political party to challenge Israeli Prime Minister .

Danon, who mounted his own an unsuccessful challenge to replace Netanyahu as head of the party in 2014, noted that he accepted his own loss despite having disagreements with the prime minister. “I, too, criticize things that happen in the party, but I believe that we should try and change it from within and not split to create new entities,” Danon said. 

Danon suggested that Netanyahu’s refusal to appoint Sa’ar to a cabinet post despite his senior position within the party motivated the former minister to strike out on his own.

The “responsible thing to do now,” Danon advised, is for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to engage and resolve the dispute between them — to pass a budget and stick to the previously agreed upon rotation deal to prevent new elections. “I think that once you have an agreement, you should stand behind it. That’s the message you want to send to Israeli citizens and to the next generation,” he stressed. 

“I don’t think the right thing to do now as we are still fighting COVID-19 is to divide the country and force another election,” Danon asserted.

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