Netanyahu taps close aide Ron Dermer as new ambassador to US

Official: There is no one closer to Netanyahu; diplomatic officials call alleged support for Romney a myth.

ron dermer with bibi 370 (photo credit: Courtesy GPO)
ron dermer with bibi 370
(photo credit: Courtesy GPO)
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 position.
“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.”
Diplomatic officials 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 candidacy.
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 incident.
“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 years.
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.
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 Oxford.
Dermer declined to comment for this story.
His appointment 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 choice.
“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.