Jun 20, 2018 - World

Scoop: Netanyahu to extend Ambassador Ron Dermer's term in D.C.

Dermer at Trump Tower the week after the election. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided, in a unorthodox move, to extend the term of Israel's ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer by another year.

Why it matters: Dermer is the most politically oriented ambassador Israel has ever had in Washington and is perceived as being totally affiliated with the GOP. He is the closest adviser Netanyahu has, other than his wife and his son, and among the most influential foreign diplomats in Washington.

In March last year, Netanyahu passed a decision in the cabinet to extend Dermer's term from four to five years. His explanation was that the Trump administration had just taken office, and continuity was needed at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

On Sunday, Netanyahu will pass another decision in the cabinet.

  • The draft decision copy I obtained says that "Special circumstances on the world stage in general and especially in the U.S.-Israeli relationship" call for extending Dermer's term.
  • It also says, "Dermer managed to build a vast and qualitative network of contacts which allows him to promote Israel national security interests with the administration and with Congress."

Dermer was appointed as ambassador in 2013 at the beginning of Obama's second term despite the fact that he actively worked as Netanyahu's senior adviser to assist the Romney 2012 presidential campaign.

The Obama administration was very suspicious of Dermer but agreed to his appointment. Relations with Obama's senior adviser's — mainly National Security Adviser Susan Rice — very quickly went south. Dermer was a treated as a persona non grata at the Obama White House. Things grew even worse after he orchestrated, together with than Speaker John Boehner, Netanyahu's March 2015 speech to Congress.

  • Obama and his adviser's saw Dermer as a GOP political operative and not as the representative of a close ally.
  • Since Trump entered office, Dermer's status at the White House changed quickly and he became a very frequent visitor to the West Wing. During the campaign and the transition, Dermer built a close relationship with Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner and with other advisers like Steve Bannon.  
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