Minister backs decision to nix US trip over ceasefire resolution, says war in ‘home stretch’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

File - Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer walks into the Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington, DC on December 26, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)
File - Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer walks into the Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington, DC on December 26, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer tells Bloomberg TV that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the right decision in canceling a trip to Washington where Dermer was to discuss alternate options for dealing with Hamas in Rafah.

Netanyahu nixed the trip last night after the US declined to use its veto on a ceasefire resolution in the UN Security Council, thus allowing it to pass.

Dermer says he has not spoken to US officials since the resolution passed, but he was in touch with the Biden administration on Sunday night to warn against the move.

“When I heard what was happening, I said, look, you’re going to have the wrong message, at the wrong time.”

It was a “very, very bad message,” Dermer argues, because it doesn’t tie a ceasefire to the return of the hostages, and it’s the wrong time because of the ongoing talks in Qatar.

“It’s not surprising that Hamas decided to reject the latest proposal that was put forth by the Americans,” he says. “They think they’re going to get a ceasefire without giving up the hostages because that’s what the resolution said.”

“What message is it going to send to Hamas that the day after the Americans separate these two issues and say you know what, you can have a ceasefire without hostage negotiations, and then the United States is presenting its proposal on how we should not go into Rafah. That’s a real big problem, and that’s why the prime minister made the right decision to stop the delegation.”

He says Israel and the US have not discussed a new date for the delegation, but that American ideas would still be shared.

If the US continues to insist there not be a major military operation in Rafah, then “we won’t be on the same page.” He adds that the US has not threatened any specific consequences in conversations with Israel if there is an operation in Rafah.

Dermer implores the US to stand with Israel until the end of the fight against Hamas, saying the war is in “the home stretch.”

“Stand with us, let us finish the job, and let’s get to a day after where can have a real peace process that can give hope not only to Israelis, but also to Palestinians,” he says.

He argues that Israel has “real partners in the region” to create a new reality in Gaza after Hamas is finished, pointing at the Saudis and Emiratis.

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