Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer will run his ministry “like a think tank,” according to a senior government official.
The Strategic Affairs Ministry will not deal with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement but will have three jurisdictions: the Abraham Accords countries, issues related to Iran and relations with the US, the source told The Jerusalem Post in an interview.
It was unclear who the ministry’s staff will be and who will be its director-general, the source said.
Dermer, who was Israel’s ambassador in the US, arrived in Washington on Monday ahead of meetings with White House and State Department officials, Walla reported, citing senior Israeli officials familiar with Dermer’s surprise trip. This is the first visit to the US by a cabinet member from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government.
'De facto' foreign minister: How will Ron Dermer run Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry?
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen will run other diplomatic issues for the government, which are probably not as central or important to Netanyahu, and Dermer will be the de facto foreign minister on topics that are crucial to Netanyahu, the source said. Cohen is slated to be the foreign minister for one year and then be replaced by Israel Katz.
As opposed to what many in Israel and in the diplomatic community think, Dermer will not be running a ministry similar to the older versions of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which was once headed by Gilad Erdan, who is now Israeli ambassador to the UN, the source said.
The issue of combating the delegitimization of Israel globally, as well as the BDS movement and antisemitism, is supposed to be given to Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli. About 20 employees of the Foreign Ministry are expected to transfer to the Diaspora Affairs Ministry and deal with these issues, the source said. They have not been working in the Foreign Ministry for a long time. They were transferred from the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which was dismantled by the Naftali Bennett-Yair Lapid government. These employees are now working for the public diplomacy department at the Foreign Ministry.
The employees at the Foreign Ministry who are expected to move to the Diaspora Affairs Ministry do not know when or how this is going to take place, the source said.
Therefore, Dermer will not be dealing with the BDS movement or with antisemitism, the source said, adding that he is running an existing ministry, but the content has all been taken away from it.
Dermer will deal with more strategic foreign-affairs issues, as a Netanyahu confidant, and some observers might consider him to be a shadow foreign minister, the source said.