Cabinet unanimously approves Dermer as US ambassador

American-born adviser to replace Michael Oren, but appointment may be delayed because of Foreign Ministry strike

The cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved Ron Dermer’s appointment as the next ambassador the United States.

“Ron is one of the most talented and dedicated people I have met,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “There is no one more fitting than him. He will continue the outstanding activity of outgoing ambassador Michael Oren, who did excellent work, and I am sure that Ron will continue in this effort.”

US-born Dermer, 42, a key adviser to Netanyahu, will take over the key post from Oren, another US-born political appointee, who has held the job for the past four years.

Dermer immigrated to Israel in 1997 after several years of involvement in Republican congressional politics. He co-wrote with former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky “The Case for Democracy,” a book that President George W. Bush later cited as a major influence. In the book, Sharansky treats Dermer as a full partner in shaping its ideas.

Through Sharansky, Dermer met Netanyahu, and they also forged an immediate closeness. Netanyahu, the finance minister in the mid-2000s, sent Dermer to Washington as economic consul.

From 2005 to 2008, he served as economic affairs minister to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, a position which required him to give up his US citizenship.

Dermer is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and holds a master’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford. In 1995, while still a student at Oxford, he helped manage Sharansky’s Yisrael b’Aliyah party’s Knesset campaign.

Dermer’s father, lawyer Jay Dermer, served in the 1960s as the mayor of Miami Beach, Florida, and Dermer’s brother, David Dermer, later also served as Miami Beach mayor. Dermer’s mother was born in Mandatory Palestine and later emigrated with her family to the US.

A June Channel 10 report noted that Dermer, who has long been groomed for the job, saw his prospects nosedive due to his perceived support for Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the last US presidential election.

However, the report said, he has since improved his ties with key Obama administration figures, notably Secretary of State John Kerry, paving the way for his appointment.

Married with five children, Dermer is an engaging and effective advocate for Netanyahu’s worldview, one insider said.

A Tablet magazine feature last year said Dermer “has done more to shape Israel’s relationship with the United States, its Arab neighbors, and the Palestinians over the past few years than any man aside from the prime minister himself.”

However, Dermer might have to wait a bit to take his post, as striking Foreign Ministry workers are refusing to process his transfer to Washington, give him a diplomatic passport, or even buy him a ticket for the flight out.

Requests to US authorities for special ambassadorial permits have not been made and Dermer has not completed the preparation courses required before he takes up his new post, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. He has also not been able to meet with staffers from the North American offices who are to prepare him for the job.

“The strike is still ongoing, so it is entirely natural that we wouldn’t issue a diplomatic passport for someone from the outside,” spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel.

As a result, Dermer will likely be forced to delay his arrival in Washington beyond the scheduled target date next month.

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