Ambassador Ron Dermer Flouts Regulations by Endorsing Netanyahu on U.S. Media

Civil Service instructions forbid civil servants from expressing themselves on political issues, and from involvement in election propaganda.

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Ron Dermer, Israel's envoy to the U.S.
Ron Dermer, Israel's envoy to the U.S.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer expressed support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection on a U.S. media program, contravening explicit civil service regulations.

On December 10 the Civil Service Commission distributed instructions to all civil servants forbidding them to be involved in any election propaganda or to express themselves on political issues. The instructions said senior officials must be especially careful about this.

On Tuesday Dermer, who has been ambassador to Washington since last year, was interviewed on the Fusion cable network, whose programming is heavily geared to young English speakers of Hispanic background. The interviewer, Jorge Ramos, asked Dermer about the Israeli elections and cited polls showing that the Israeli public believed the country was not moving in the right direction.

In response, Dermer said that during the last U.S. presidential election there was a certain percentage of Americans who believed their country was moving in the wrong direction, but it didn’t prevent U.S. President Barack Obama from being reelected.

He then added, “I have no doubt that when they [the Israeli public] look at all the people that stand for the leadership of the country, that they will have confidence in the leadership of prime minister Netanyahu.”

In his December 10 circular, Civil Service Commissioner Moshe Dayan wrote, “A state employee must be careful that his actions or behavior cannot be interpreted as being aimed at promoting the interest of any particular party or candidate.” Anyone violating these instructions, he said, “will face criminal or disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the law.”

There was no response from Dermer or the embassy in Washington to Haaretz’s query on this issue by press time.

Dermer had previously been a close political adviser of Netanyahu’s and was actively involved in the 2009 and 2013 election campaigns. After the last elections he was appointed ambassador to the United States. Since arriving in Washington he has continued to advise Netanyahu on a wide range of issues.

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