A: The issue of anti-Semitism is very important to me — it is a global issue. We should not be silent about it. That’s why I dedicated a lot of effort to educate my colleagues at the U.N. about the danger of hate [and] anti-Semitism.
Q: In this fight against anti-Semitism, how important is it to also fight the glorification of the Nazis or Nazi symbols?
A: I think we have to fight anti-Semitism on all fronts. Today with social media it is a challenge, and we have debates with scholars and legal experts about what we can do regarding, hate crimes, how to deal with freedom of speech and where we draw the line. We cherish freedom of speech, but we cannot cherish freedom of hate.
Q: Were you directly confronted with anti-Semitism during your time at the U.N.?
A: I had difficult moments, both when you hear the voices coming from Iran or the hate crime in Pittsburgh here in the U.S.
Q: You mentioned in interviews trips to Dubai and to other Arab countries. How is Israel’s relationship with the Arab states at the moment?
A: It’s a very important and strategic relationship, beneficial for both sides. We share the common threat over the Iranian regime, which is threatening the entire region.
We collaborate and can collaborate more. The issue is whether the Arab states actually recognize, publicly, the accomplishments and cooperation. I think it is about time to move to the next level and to see what we can do publicly, not only behind closed doors.
Q: The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States has spoken publicly about his country’s relationship with Israel and said it’s either “annexation or normalization,” stressing that your country’s annexation plans would make it impossible to go ahead with a normalization process.
A: We welcome his involvement and input. It’s important we do take it into consideration and to have a dialogue — weather it is with Arab or European countries, the U.S. or Russia, China — it is very important for us, and it is part of the process. But at the end of the day, the Israeli government will have to reach a decision about the issue of applying sovereignty.
Q: Are you communicating with any Arab ambassadors over the annexation topic at the moment?
A: We always have open channels of communication. We do agree most of the time on most issues. But even if there are issues we don’t agree on, we still discuss them.
Q: The Palestinians announced they have ended security cooperation with Israel.
A: It is not the first time we hear an announcement similar to that one.
And this security cooperation is not only beneficial to Israel but for the Palestinians themselves. In a few occasions, we shared information with them that helped prevent terrorist attacks not against Israeli but actually against the Palestinian Authority.
Q: Is there any attempt at the moment to bring the Palestinians back to the table, to discuss and negotiate?
A: We are open-minded. I have been approaching President [Mahmoud] Abbas when he came to the U.N. the last time. . . . We are willing to go back to the negotiating table. But it’s difficult to find a good partner on the other side.
Q: How do you see at the moment the threat coming from Hamas?
A: I think Hamas is continuing to occupy Gaza. Instead of supporting the population, they are investing in tunnels and weapons, and that’s unfortunate because it means that they’re actually investing in the future conflict with Israel instead of investing in the future of the Palestinians.
Q: Where do things stand with Iran? Do Western countries see eye to eye with Israel when it comes to the question of how to deal with Iran?
A: We believe the Iranians are not only posing a threat to Israel but to the entire community of the world. In October we have the issue of the arm embargo, whether it will be extended or not. We encourage all countries to support the position of the U.S. and not allow Iran to continue and increase the involvement in supplying arms to different groups in the Middle East.
Q: Has the Trump administration handled the threat you see coming from Iran in a way that was sufficient?
A: We are grateful for the decision to pull out of the Iran deal, it was very important.
And we appreciate the strong stance of President Trump and [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo on this issue. We have stated many times, we will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons, no matter what. We welcome the leadership of the U.S. on this issue.
Q: There was an explosion in the nuclear facility in Iran. How important was this facility for Iran?
A: We will not get into a specific incident. But overall, our policy is very clear about not allowing Iran to achieving the nuclear weapon.
Q: What are your plans? What will you be doing next?
A: I am concluding five years. It’s a very long term. . . . I intend to stay involved in public service. I gained a lot of experience, knowledge and connections that I intend to use in order to support Israel.