Ambassador Dermer on Israeli Support for Netanyahu on Iran Deal: Moses Didn’t Have Those Numbers
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said on Sunday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has more support in the Jewish state for his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal than Moses had when he led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Dermer’s comment was made in an interview with CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria in response to a question on whether it was prudent policy for Israel to oppose the Obama Administration on the Iran deal, given the importance of Washington’s support for Israel’s security.
Acknowledging the centrality of Israel’s relationship with the United States, Dermer said that ensuring the State of Israel’s survival was more important, and that, “the Prime Minister of Israel and the head of the [opposition] agree that this is a very bad deal that endangers Israel’s security.” He continued, “in Israel this view is shared by the Prime Minister, by the head of the opposition [Isaac Herzog], by 30 out of 33 members of our Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Moses didn’t have those kind of numbers.”
Dermer also said he believed that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were sincere when they claimed that the Iran deal would make both the United States and Israel safer, but, “We just disagree with their judgment. We think this deal will endanger Israel’s security.”
He also said that while Israel is not directly lobbying U.S. lawmakers to vote down the deal, “We are telling them that this is a bad deal that endangers Israel’s security.”
Zakaria shot back saying that the former head of Israel’s Mossad, Meir Dagan, supported the deal, to which Dermer responded that in a Jewish and democratic state it is impossible not to have differences of opinion.
Zakaria also questioned Dermer on Netanyahu’s continued warnings over the past twenty years that Iran was two to three years away from a bomb, yet decades later Tehran had still not produced an atomic weapon. “Why has he been wrong about Iran for twenty years,” asked Zakaria, “is it possible that you don’t completely understand Iran?”
Dermer responded, “I think the Prime Minister of Israel understands Iran better than almost any leader in the world because he’s been focusing on this issue for twenty years,” and said the reason why the Prime Minister’s predictions did not materialize was American and Israeli action.
“Had the United States and Israel done nothing over the last fifteen years, they would have had a bomb maybe ten years ago but the United States and Israel have worked together to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power and we should continue to work together to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability,” said Dermer.
He added that the Iran deal, “closes the nuclear file, not by blocking Iran’s path to the bomb, but by ceding to them a nuclear weapons capability and a nuclear arsenal, at best delaying it for a few years.”