Biden administration said keen on ex-envoy Dermer serving in senior government post

US officials tell Walla that former ambassador is someone Washington is familiar with and can talk to, despite past ‘differences,’ understands political delicacy of current issues

Ron Dermer during an onstage interview at a conference organized by the Makor Rishon news outlet on May 9, 2021. (Screen capture/Facebook)
Ron Dermer during an onstage interview at a conference organized by the Makor Rishon news outlet on May 9, 2021. (Screen capture/Facebook)

Top officials in the Biden administration hope that Ron Dermer, a former Israeli ambassador to the US, will be appointed to a senior position in the emerging government under presumed prime minister-to-be Benjamin Netanyahu, the Walla news site reported Monday.

A senior official told Walla that, though “we had our differences,” the administration would be “happy to work with him in the next government.”

The report comes amid speculation that Netanyahu wants to appoint Dermer, a long-time confidant, to be foreign minister in the next government.

The unnamed official said that Washington believes that Dermer understands the political and policy sensitivities of current issues and that “it is possible to talk” with the familiar Dermer.

Netanyahu is relying on the inclusion of far-right parties to form a ruling coalition, which worries Washington about how that will influence Israeli policy.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, National Security adviser Jake Sultan, and US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides all know Dermer from when he was Israel’s envoy to the US during the Obama administration. Nides has been in constant contact with Dermer since the weeks leading up to the November 1 elections, according to the report.

According to Walla, Netanyahu could also appoint Dermer as a minister within the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for ties with the US, as well as advancing normalization with more Arab states, including Saudi Arabia.

Dermer declined to comment to Walla on the report.

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) with then-Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, at the US president’s guest house, in Washington, DC, February 14, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

However, the US-born Dermer, could face challenges from senior lawmakers in Netanyahu’s Likud party who are also seeking appointments following victory in the November 1 elections.

These rivals are likely behind recent reports that highlighted Dermer having harshly criticized US President Joe Biden in a recent podcast.

Dermer accused the White House of “project[ing] tremendous weakness,” “handcuffing Israel,” being “hellbent” on reaching a nuclear deal, and being “wrong fundamentally strategically” by trying to negotiate in order to avoid an armed clash with Iran.

Dermer, who helped engineer Netanyahu’s ill-fated attempts to bypass the Barack Obama White House and argue against the Iran nuclear deal directly to Congress and American voters, also pushed for a resumption of that strategy, indicating that he may pursue the same tack, despite the fact that it led to what some described as a low-point in ties between Jerusalem and Washington.

The podcast aired on August 26, when the US and Iran appeared to be mere days away from reaching a deal to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which curbed Iranian nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. Dermer’s comments drew little attention at the time, but have taken on additional relevancy since his name emerged as a leading candidate for Israel’s top diplomatic post.

Efforts to renew the deal, which former US president Donald Trump pulled the US out of in 2018, fizzled out in September, and Washington now says it is not focused on negotiating with Iran, given the widespread protests and a brutal crackdown there.

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