Israel elected to UN space committee despite Arab, Palestinian opposition


( In a vote at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, an Israeli representative was elected to a seat on the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), despite opposition from the Palestinians and several Arab countries. 

Israel's first nanosatellite, BGUSAT, which was launched in mid-February as part of an academic initiative by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. (Illustrative.) Credit: Ben-Gurion University.

Keren Shahar, director of the Treaties Department in Israel’s Foreign Ministry, will represent the Jewish state as one of six heads of the 84-member COPUOS bureau. Brazil, Mexico, Poland, South Africa and Indonesia were also elected to head the U.N. forum along with Israel.  

“We have proven once again that Israel can succeed in all roles as we spearhead positive new initiatives as an equal partner in the U.N.,” said Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon. “We will continue to stand strong against attempts to harm Israel in the international arena.”

Israel was initially accepted into COPUOS in October 2015 after facing similar attempts by Arab states to thwart its membership. In 2016, the Israel Space Agency became an official member of the U.N. Committee on Space Affairs.

Israel is the smallest country in the world to launch its own satellites, and is also one of only 11 nations with the ability to independently launch unmanned missions into space. As of 2016, the Israel Space Agency’s annual budget stood at $15 million, comparable in size to the Mexican, Swiss and South African space programs.

Posted on October 18, 2017 .