With the Middle East in flames, Iran inching toward nuclear capability and good,
trusted communications with Washington more crucial then ever, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday named Ron Dermer, his closest adviser, as the next
ambassador to Washington.
“Ron Dermer has all the qualities necessary to
successfully fill this important post,” Netanyahu said in a statement announcing
the much-expected appointment. “I have known him for many years, and I know that
Ron will faithfully represent the State of Israel in the capital of our greatest
ally – the US.”
Diplomatic officials said that one of the most important
qualities that Dermer brings to the post is the complete confidence and trust of
Netanyahu, as well as unfettered access to him. These are traits that host
countries look for in ambassadors.
Not in a generation or more has the
prime minister appointed anyone as close to him to serve in this
“There is no one closer to the prime minister,” one official
said. “This is a great advantage for us and the Americans. The Americans will
know that when they are talking to Dermer, they are talking to someone who is
speaking for the prime minister. No one can compare anyone’s relationship
to Netanyahu to the one he has with Dermer.”
dismissed reports that Washington opposed the appointment on the grounds that
Dermer is viewed as a neo-Conservative who allegedly backed Republican Mitt
Romney against US President Barack Obama in the last presidential election. The
officials discounted Dermer’s alleged support for Romney as a myth, and said
Dermer never made any statement that could be perceived as supporting the Romney
The officials said the Obama administration has “warmly
welcomed” the prospect of Dermer’s appointment.
Dermer met Tuesday
together with Netanyahu and US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, an envoy who – like
himself – is considered very close to his own boss.
Dermer was a key
player in organizing Obama’s trip to Israel in March, and was also instrumental
in securing Netanyahu’s agreement – just as Obama was boarding Air Force One to
leave the country – to apologize to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara
“This is a man who needs no on-the-job training,” one
diplomatic official said of Dermer. “He served in Washington, grew up in the US,
already knows the White House team and half of Congress.”
Over the last
four years, the official pointed out, Dermer sat in on almost every meeting
Netanyahu had with Obama and other senior administration officials, as well as
with every senator, congressman, governor and most foreign leaders. Not only is
he familiar with all the issues on the agenda, but also is very familiar with
the US Jewish community.
Like outgoing ambassador Michael Oren, Dermer is
considered an articulate speaker, both behind the podium and in front of the
television camera. Oren will be leaving his post in the fall after four
The Miami-born Dermer, 42, the father of five, served as
Netanyahu’s senior policy adviser from his election in 2009 until April, leaving
the post just after the new cabinet was sworn in and just before the birth of
his first daughter. Before that, Dermer served for three years as Israel’s
economic attaché to Washington, a position Netanyahu appointed him to in 2005
when he was finance minister.
Dermer moved to Israel in 1997 and began
working as a pollster and political consultant for Natan
Sharansky introduced him to Netanyahu, whom he also began
advising in 2000. In 2004 Dermer co-authored, with Sharansky, a book that US
president George W. Bush later highly recommended – The Case for Democracy: The
Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror
. He was also once a columnist
for The Jerusalem Post
Dermer received a degree in finance and
management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as
a degree in philosophy, politics and economics from the University of
Dermer declined to comment for this story.
will now come to the cabinet for final approval.
In a prepared statement,
National Jewish Democratic Council chairman Marc R. Stanley made no
reference to Dermer’s supposed conservative ties.
“Together, we will
continue promoting a secure, democratic Jewish State of Israel,” Stanley said,
congratulating Dermer on the new post.
The American Israel Public Affairs
Committee also came out with a statement in support of Netanyahu’s
“Mr. Dermer has a deep understanding of the critical value of the
US-Israel relationship and the importance of further strengthening the alliance
between these two democratic allies,” AIPAC stated.Michael Wilner
contributed to this report.