Dermer: Rejoining the nuclear agreement with Iran ‘a mistake’
“The first thing I would say to the incoming administration is sit with your allies in the region,” Israel’s ambassador said.
Ron Dermer at a Hanukkah event at the Israeli embassy in Washington, where a menorah made of fragments of rockets fired against Israel was lit (December 17, 2019).
(photo credit: OMRI NAHMIAS)
WASHINGTON – If President-elect Joe Biden decides to join the nuclear deal with Iran, “it would be a mistake,” Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said Monday.
He made his remarks during a roundtable at the Economic Club of Washington with United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba and Bahraini Ambassador to the US Abdullah Al Khalifa.
Multiple times during his presidential campaign, Biden said he would reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran deal, under specific terms.
“I think it would be a mistake, and hopefully he will look at the Middle East as it is,” Dermer said. “He will see the benefits of [the normalization] process, of how he can continue that process and… not go back into the same deal.”
Israel and Arab Gulf countries opposed the 2015 agreement, he said.
“The prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] opposed it publicly in Congress in 2015, but I think he spoke for many others in the region,” he added. “And I think that when you have Israelis and Arabs who were saying to you, ‘This is not a good idea; do not follow that path,’ that should be taken into consideration.”
Both Israel and the Arab countries “were not at the table” when the agreement was discussed, Dermer said, adding that he hopes this time things would be different.
“The first thing I would say to the incoming administration is sit with your allies in the region,” he said. “Listen to us. We have the most skin in the game. We have the most to lose.
“Speak to us. Try to work out a common position, which I think is possible not only to deal with nuclear issues, but also to deal with the regional aggression of Iran. Forge a common policy with your allies in the region that will both enhance this process… and I think the input [will put] the United States in a much better place to deal with Iran.”
Dermer also addressed the negotiations between Israel and the UAE to normalize ties over the summer.
“As we were moving forward to extend Israeli sovereignty over territory, that was consistent with the Trump peace plan… the UAE contacted the White House and said, ‘Look, if Israel is willing to suspend the extension of sovereignty, we are willing to normalize,’” he said. “And once we had that real offer on the table, it took us several weeks, and we were able to finalize it and really create a breakthrough for the whole region.”
Regarding the term “to suspend” extending sovereignty, Dermer said: “That was a word that was carefully chosen. It is very specific: It doesn’t mean permanent; it doesn’t mean tomorrow. It means somewhere in between those two positions.”