Claims envoy has angered Obama administration and is hurting US-Israel ties; PM reportedly refuses to comply
A Knesset member from the Zionist Union party has called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to fire his Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer as a “necessary first step” in efforts to rehabilitate fractured Israel-US relations.
Dermer has incurred the wrath of the Obama Administration and senior Democrats for colluding with top Congressional Republicans to arrange Netanyahu’s March 3 speech to Congress – behind the back of President Barack Obama.
In a letter sent to Netanyahu Wednesday, Knesset member Erel Margalit said the Obama administration has been giving Israel the cold shoulder since Dermer arranged the speech along with Speaker of the House John Boehner.
According to Margalit, Dermer’s current persona non grata status in Washington is endangering Israel, and Netanyahu must dismiss him in order to show serious efforts are being taken to “rebuild trust with Israel’s best and most important ally.”
Dermer, for his part, has not shown any contrition for his actions, according to a lengthy piece in The New York Times describing the ambassador’s activities.
“As he visits lawmakers and entertains them over dinner, sits for broadcast interviews and speaks with groups of journalists, Mr. Dermer has shown … little sign that he is rethinking his approach.
“The outreach comes as some administration officials and members of Congress have privately said Mr. Dermer’s standing has been so tarnished by recent events that he can no longer be effective in his post.”
Richard LeBaron, the former American ambassador to Kuwait and a former deputy chief of mission at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, told The New York Times that the speech episode was a mistake that had rendered Dermer “damaged goods,” and “practically persona non grata among senior policy makers” in the United States government.
“It was poor judgment, and it was poor judgment affecting the relationship with the most important country that has a partnership with Israel,” said Mr. LeBaron, adding that as a former ambassador, he would expect to have been sent home for a similar infraction. “If he’s not gone within a month, it’s another indicator that Netanyahu is only out for political advantage and is not serious about repairing relations.”
A source in the prime minister’s office told Israel Army Radio that PM Netanyahu is not planning to replace Dermer.”