Israel's U.S. Envoy: Kerry Didn't Talk About Boycott to Pressure Us

Ron Dermer comes out in support of the U.S. secretary of state, who has faced criticism from senior Israeli officials recently.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, defended U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a number of interviews to the American media Monday. Dermer emphasized that Kerry does not support a boycott against Israel.

"I think he was making a descriptive statement," Kerry told Time Magazine, in reference to Kerry's speech at the Munich Security Conference two weeks ago. “I don’t think he was doing it in order to pressure Israel."

Dermer added that Kerry was talking about pressure on Israel that already exists. “Secretary Kerry is opposed to the boycotting of Israel, something he made clear again this week. President Obama has also been crystal clear about that,” he told Time.

Dermer's remarks come after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's defense of Kerry on Friday. Lieberman also attacked Economy Minister Naftali Bennett's criticism of Kerry.

Lieberman called Kerry “a true friend of Israel,” focusing his barbs at Bennett. “Where is the wisdom in turning friends into foes?” he asked. “John Kerry is leading the process correctly. We are now creating principles vis-a-vis the Americans on the basis of which to negotiate directly with the Palestinians.”

“John Kerry is not a member of the settler council and he has a right to think differently than the screaming Naftali Bennett,” he said, adding that he sees Bennett “running to the microphones but I don’t see him running to the opposition.”

Demer was also interviewed by the Jewish Telegraph Agency. “We deeply appreciate Secretary Kerry’s commitment to Israel’s security and to helping Israel achieve a lasting and secure peace with the Palestinians,” Dermer told JTA. “Throughout his nearly 30-year tenure in the U.S. Senate and as secretary of state, Secretary Kerry has been a staunch supporter of Israel and of strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance,” he said.

Dermer's words of support come after much anger in the White House about the personal attacks against Kerry by senior Israeli ministers. A few days ago, National Security Adviser Susan Rice tweeted, "Personal attacks in Israel directed at Secretary Kerry totally unfounded and unacceptable."

JTA reported Monday that according to senior American officials, Kerry has expressed his anger over the criticism in his daily phone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Ad hominem, on-the-record attacks by a series of senior Israeli officials against Secretary Kerry were deeply concerning and crossed the line,” JTA cited one White House official as saying.

At the same time, the Obama Administration is recruiting Jewish organizations to express support for Kerry, and to come out against his Israeli critics. According to a JTA report, the administration is working with a number of Jewish organizations who support the peace process in order to generate support in the United States for the framework deal that Kerry is set to present in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, former Democratic Congress member Robert Wexler, who heads the Washington-based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, is running a campaign in the Jewish community across America in order to garner support for Kerry's deal. J Street, the pro-Israel lobby, is also undertaking its own pro-peace campaign among Jewish communities across the country.

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

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