(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shortly after being told that he would have his contract extended for another year, Israel's economic attach to Washington Ron Dermer was told that his term in office would conclude at the end of May when Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson will appoint a replacement.
Dermer, a Jerusalem Post columnist, told the Post he was in the dark over the decision which was relayed to him a week ago by newly appointed Finance Ministry Director-General Yaron Ariav.
"My initial contract was for two years until the end of March but [former Finance Ministry director-general] Yossi Bachar asked me to stay another year and I agreed," Dermer said. "Just before he left his position, however, he mentioned that something was wrong with the minister over my position, so I suspected there might be changes. But I didn't expect this."
Born in Miami, Dermer made aliya in 1997 and was required to give up his US citizenship when he took up the post in Washington. He previously worked as a political consultant advising, among others, Binyamin Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky and co-authored Sharansky's book The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.
A Finance Ministry spokesperson refuted claims that Dermer had been fired, stressing that the contract had come to an end and Hirchson decided not to renew it. He did not relate to reports that the decision may have been politically motivated given Dermer's close ties to Netanyahu.
Dermer, who was appointed by Netanyahu and also served under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during his term at the Treasury, explained that the position was not a political appointment and that he worked more closely with Bachar and the treasury staff in his day to day activities.
Given Bachar's intention to extend his contract for a year, he said he did not believe the decision was performance- based or that it was related to Ariav, who took over earlier this month.
"It was Hirchson's decision but I still don't know what the reason was," he added. "Perhaps we will get some more insight when a new appointment is named."