Jun 20, 2018

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.  

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it's unclear if people who get the virus are immune to getting it again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Tuesday.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,588,299 — Total deaths: 350,417 — Total recoveries — 2,286,827Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,680,625 — Total deaths: 98,902 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy