Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, warned a cable news interviewer on Sunday that it pays to pay attention “when Israelis and Arabs are on the same page” about the threat to the region presented by Iran. Dermer was speaking to CNN about last week’s speech to the U.S. Congress by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which ruffled more than a few feathers in the Obama administration.
Nevertheless, Israel’s military intelligence chief is slated to visit the United States this week. Major-General Hertzi HaLevy is scheduled to meet with U.S. defense officials, although it is not clear whether he will also meet with newly-appointed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. HaLevy, who was appointed in September, will also attend a fundraiser for Israel. The visit has been described as routine.
Last week Netanyahu warned lawmakers about the dangers to Israel from the deal being negotiated by the U.S. and world powers with Tehran over its nuclear development program.
On Sunday, CNN‘s Michael Smerconish interviewed Dermer on the State of the Union program about reaction to the prime minister’s speech. “Well, hindsight is always 20/20 and we regret very much that there was a perception, a partisanship before the speech,” Dermer said.
“That was the last thing we wanted to do was inject Israel into your partisan debate. Israel has always been above politics in the United States and it’s important for the U.S./Israeli alliance that it remained above politics and the prime minister made that clear in his speech on Tuesday.”
Dermer underlined, however, that the prime minister meant what he said when he told Congressional lawmakers that Israel is prepared to stand alone if necessary:
“What he is saying is that Israel always reserves the right to defend itself. We have in Iran a regime that threatens Israel with annihilation and that works every day in order to destroy Israel.
“They have surrounded Israel with three terror tentacles in the north in Lebanon through Hezbollah, on the Syrian Golan. They have maybe a couple of thousand of Iranians who are there now through Hamas and Islamic jihad in Gaza.
“So, you have these three terror tentacles around Israel and Iran is vowing to annihilate Israel and we cannot accept the situation where Iran would develop a nuclear weapon to achieve that goal.
“But understand it’s not just a threat to Israel, it’s a threat to the region and it’s a threat to the world,” Dermer pointed out.
“What’s interesting, Michael, is that Israelis and Arabs are on exactly the same page when it comes to the Iranian issue. And when Israelis and Arabs are on the same page, people should pay attention. That happens about once a century.”