Israel names Romney backer to be ambassador to Washington

Israel on Tuesday named a U.S.-born Israeli who helped organize Mitt Romney's trip to Jerusalem during last year's presidential campaign to be its new ambassador to Washington.

Ron Dermer, a former adviser on U.S. affairs to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to take over from Ambassador Michael Oren — another U.S. native — next month. Netanyahu's perceived support for Romney became an issue during last year's presidential election and briefly threatened Dermer's chances of getting the post, but he has since worked to repair ties with the Obama administration and Democrats.

The National Jewish Democratic Council, which aims to build Jewish support for Democrats, congratulated Dermer on his nomination.

 

“We very much look forward to working with Mr. Dermer in his new role as he builds upon Ambassador Oren's legacy,” council chairman Marc Stanley said in a statement. “Together, we will continue promoting a secure, democratic Jewish State of Israel. We wish Mr. Dermer and his family a hearty mazal tov on this historic accomplishment.”

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Netanyahu offered effusive praise for Dermer.

“Ron Dermer has all the qualities necessary to successfully fill this important post,” he said on Tuesday. “I have known him for many years and I know that Ron will faithfully represent the State of Israel in the capital of our greatest ally — the USA. On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I wish him great success.”

Dermer immigrated to Israel from Florida in 1998 and gave up his U.S. citizenship in order to become the economic affairs minister to the Israeli embassy in Washington between 2005 and 2008. He then served as Netanyahu's liaison to the White House from 2009 until earlier this year. 

Dermer worked with Dan Senor, the former spokesman for the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq and a leading foreign affairs adviser to the Romney campaign, to organize the Israeli trip that was aimed at boosting Romney's national security credentials. The trip generated unwanted headlines for Romney at the height of the presidential campaign after he attended a fundraiser with billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and said "culture" was a key issue in explaining the differences in economic success between Israelis and Palestinians. 

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