'Arab States No Longer Dancing to the Palestinians’ Tune,' Says Israel’s Ambassador to Washington

Palestinians losing power, Dermer says, adding that decision to relocate embassy to Jerusalem didn't harm Trump ties with Arab world

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Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, at the IAC conference, 2017.
Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, at the IAC conference, 2017.Credit: Perry Bindelglass
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON - The Palestinians are losing their influence over the Arab world, Israel’s ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday. Ambassador Ron Dermer spoke at an embassy reception in Washington for Rosh Hashanah and stated that Arab states are no longer "dancing to the Palestinians’ tune.”

Dermer made those comments while speaking about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision he called “bold and historic.” He explained that for previous American administrations, “there was always an excuse” for not moving the embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Opponents of recognition argued that it would harm America’s standing in the Arab world and undermine America’s relationship with Arab states,” Dermer said. “They warned that it would lead to widespread violence throughout the region. Now when President Trump has gone ahead, we can see that those dire predictions proved predictably wrong.”

According to Dermer, “America’s standing in the Arab world has not been harmed. America’s relations with Arab states have not been undermined. Violence has not engulfed the region.” What has happened instead, he added, is that the embassy move proved that the Arab world’s approach towards Israel was changing.

“The Arab states are no longer reflexively dancing to the Palestinians’ tune,” Dermer explained. “Despite the best efforts of the Palestinian leaders to whip up opposition to Trump’s Jerusalem decision, the response in the Arab world was mostly silence.”

Dermer also said that he believes “some Arab states may finally be ready to turn the page” with regards to Israel. He added that he is “confident” that the Trump administration will find ways to “use the new realities in the region” to advance peace between Israel and its neighbors.

One of the people listening to Dermer’s speech at the reception was Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The two later engaged in a lengthy conversation on the sidelines of the event.

Some leading countries in the Arab world, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, have told the Trump administration that the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel made it more complicated for them to support Trump’s peace plan, which hasn’t yet been made public. Saudi officials in particular told Trump’s peace envoys that they were able to put more pressure on the Palestinian leadership to accept the peace plan before the Jerusalem decision was announced.

Dermer also thanked Trump in his speech for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran’s economy. “This dramatically improved Israel’s security,” Dermer said, “and it may change the trajectory of the entire Middle East.” He added that the decision has diminished the likelihood of war in the region, by weakening Iran.

The ambassador said that “European companies are abandoning Iran, but some European leaders are desperately working to undermine U.S. sanctions, even as Iranian agents are caught trying to carry out terror attacks on European soil. Old habits die hard and in Europe appeasement is a very old habit.”

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