Israel's Ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, was unanimously elected Friday as one of 20 vice presidents of the next U.N. General Assembly, set to open on September 18.
Prosor was chosen as the candidate representing Western countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Western European countries. He is only the third Israeli to be elected to the position, after Abba Eban in 1952 and Dan Gillerman in 2005.
In his capacity as vice president, the Israeli ambassador will be fully involved in setting the agenda of the U.N. General Assembly for the coming year, and will also be tasked with leading plenary discussions in the absence of the General Assembly president.
The next General Assembly agenda is expected to be turbulent and laden with, among other issues, the worsening situation in Syria, the Iranian nuclear challenge, the implications of the Arab Spring and attempts by the Palestinians to renew their unilateral bid for recognition of statehood.
Prosor's tenure as vice president of the General Assembly will provide Israel with a position of influence at the U.N. at a time when it faces many challenges, the Israeli Mission to the U.N. said in a statement.
"This is another achievement for Israel at the U.N., and an expression of appreciation by the international community for our contributions," a proud Prosor said over the weekend. "We are working hard to put Israel on the map of the United Nations as a leading and influential country."
Prosor said he hoped Israel would one day become a member of the U.N. Security Council. "Moreover, an Israeli candidate being selected for this senior position could serve as the basis for advancing additional Israeli candidates for other key positions at the U.N.," he said.
The General Assembly elected Serbia's Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic, president of its next session, a sign of Serbia's rehabilitation after the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
Jeremic, the first Serb to hold a top U.N. post, defeated Lithuania's U.N. Ambassador Dalius Cekuolis by a vote of 99-85 on the first ballot after an intense behind-the-scenes campaign. One member in the 193-member body abstained from voting, and there were several several absentees.
"A painful era has now come to an end," Jeremic said. "Today our nation can proudly stand before the world again."
The one-year presidency of the General Assembly rotates among regions, and this was the first contested election since 1991. Usually, a region puts forward a single candidate, but this year Eastern Europe had two contenders.