Dermer: Trump peace plan will take Israel’s ‘vital interests’ into account

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer addressed the much-anticipated Trump Mideast peace plan in remarks at the White House pre-Passover reception held in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) on Tuesday.

“I know a lot of people are concerned that the peace plan is going to be coming out soon. But I have to say, as Israel’s ambassador, I am confident that this administration — given its support for Israel — will take Israel’s vital concerns into account in any plan they will put forward,” Dermer said in remarks obtained by Jewish Insider.

Addressing Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Mideast envoy, Dermer quipped, “They say that the key to peace is low expectations. So I think you are well underway.” The comment drew laughter from the crowd.

Greenblatt posted on Twitter earlier in the day: “Jared, Ambassador David Friedman & I sincerely appreciate all of the interest in our peace efforts over the past two years. But, we’re not going to reveal details of the plan ahead of time. Continued speculation doesn’t help anyone and harms the effort. We kindly suggest a stop to the guessing games.”

The Israeli ambassador said that he’s “optimistic” about the peace plan because “there is a real change in the Arab world” in their attitudes toward Israel “that some people haven’t recognized.”

Dermer added: “I think that you have in Jared [Kushner], in Jason [Greenblatt], in Avi [Berkowitz], in David [Friedman], in this whole team — you have the best chance to take advantage of this historic moment of opportunity that exists, because everybody that speaks to them knows that they speak for the president of the United States. And I can tell you, as an envoy, the single most important currency that we have as envoys is that people know you are speaking for the leader and the government that they represent.”

“So, while I will never blame any American president or secretary of state or envoy for the failure to achieve peace — anyone who does that doesn’t understand why we don’t have peace. The Palestinians have to cross the rubicon. It’s going to be up to them. But what you can be is better or worse facilitators to get them to that point. And I could not think of better facilitators, with better relations both with Israel and the Arab world, to take advantage of this historic opportunity. I know that you all join me in wishing the best for the initiative that will come in the weeks and months ahead.”

The closed-to-press event was attended by Jewish community leaders, mostly from Orthodox Jewish groups who maintain close ties with the Trump administration. Attendees were treated to gefilte fish, Israeli salad and matzah crackers.

Dermer said it was important for him to attend the event “to express” Israel’s gratitude for President Trump’s support for Israel “just in the last twelve months.”

Dermer also thanked President Trump for giving Israel the backing “both in words and deeds” to defend itself from Iran in Syria. “You saw it in the decision recently by the U.S. that it would make it clear that it would stay in this important base within Syria, in al-Tanf,” he said, and by Trump’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Dermer said about Trump, “It is true that in every generation they rise up against us (Sheb’chol Dor VaDor…). But it is a rare thing — a very rare thing — a president like President Trump and an administration like the Trump administration — that doesn’t happen every generation. It may happen once in many, many, many generations. And Israel, the Jewish state, and I believe, the Jewish people are blessed to have a real friendly administration.”  

By Jacob Kornbluh in New York. Follow Jacob at @jacobkornbluh

This post was updated at 9:49 pm

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.