Picking Danny Danon to be Israel's new ambassador to the United Nations, Prime Minister Netanyahu sent a bitter political rival into exile though in the process he may have both chosen a future successor and added yet another layer to Israel's international isolation.
Although Netanyahu fired Danon last year as deputy defense minister for publicly criticizing the PM's agreeing to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in the latest Gaza war and accusing him of "leftist feebleness," this appointment doesn't mean he has forgiven the man who has repeatedly challenged Bibi for Likud leadership.
Far from it. Danon, a leader of the far right wing of Likud, has been a frequent and public critic of Netanyahu's policies, and this is a chance to get him out of town. It is also a expression of contempt for the United Nations by a former ambassador, Netanyahu, who in a 2011 speech to the General Assembly, called the UN "a house of lies."
Danon is trading a minor ministry, Science, Technology and Space, for a spot on the world stage, where he will get more media attention back home than if he stayed in Israel, letting him claim some diplomatic credentials and make valuable political contacts in the states.
Danon is an outspoken opponent of the two-state solution who wants annex most of the West Bank and cut off water and electricity service to the Gaza Strip. He also is a harsh critic of President Obama.
That should make him popular in Brooklyn but not across the river in Turtle Bay or with much of the rest of the American Jewish community.
David Horovitz, editor of the right-leaning Times of Israel, called Danon's selection a "short-sighted, shameful, self-defeating and damaging appointment."
If and when Netanyahu decides to try to repair US-Israel relations following the Iran vote in the Congress, he may find the highly partisan and divisive Amb. Ron Dermer in Washington and Danon at the United Nations are not the ones he will need to mend fences. Then again, after his success with President Romney, he may decide to wait for President Trump.