Esther Herlitz, Israel's first female ambassador, dies aged 94

By Charlotte Oliver, March 27, 2016
Esther Herlitz

Esther Herlitz

Israel’s first female ambassador Esther Herlitz has died at the age of 94.

Born in 1921, Ms Herlitz joined the Jewish Agency’s diplomatic corps in 1946, before serving at Israel’s consul in New York in the 1950s.

She was among the team of officials who negotiated compensation for Holocaust survivors from Germany.

In 1966, she became Israel’s first foreign female ambassador, working as Israel’s envoy to Denmark. She then worked in the Knesset as part of the Alignment party (a precursor to the Labour party) and became the first woman to join the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

Last year, Ms Herlitz was given the country’s highest award - the Israel Prize - for contributions to Israeli society. She is said to be the person responsible for breaking the glass ceiling for women in Israel.

Labour party leader Isaac Herzog paid tribute to Ms Herlitz as “a teacher, a gifted diplomat and member of Knesset, a feminist leader whose leadership was a model of fortitude and honesty in a tough political world”.

He added: “Esther is one of the leaders who shaped the path of the labour movement”.

Last updated: 10:05am, March 28 2016